Film Review: “Soul” (2020)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Not only do we often take life itself for granted but also the opportunities that come our way. We use excuses such as tiredness, not in the mood or not today as ways to escape what would give us a purpose and a boost to do something wonderful. And that’s because some of us still don’t believe in human capacity and its ability to turn little things into something wonderful.

Joe Gardener, a middle-aged African American, sees his only purpose in jazz. As soon as he touched the keyboard, he got into it. As a band teacher in middle school, he helps children master their skills. But there’s something Joe looks for that could make him absolutely happy. And when he finally lands the gig of a lifetime, he finds himself in another realm after a freak accident, in which he must help another soul find its purpose, as he tries to find his own soul.

“I would die a happy man if I would get to play for Dorothy Williams,” the man shouts in joy, loud enough for the universe to hear his voice. Before he gets his dream gig, he gets an offer to become a full-time music teacher in a school. However, when an accident occurs, his soul departs from his body as he finds himself in the Great Before, where he is assigned to mentor a 22, a soul that does not want to live on Earth.

From the director of “Up”, “Monster’s Inc” and “Inside Out”, Pete Docter, with “Soul”, delivers another masterpiece that is well suited for any generation. It’s subtle, poignant, brilliant and moving. The animation is on a level that is not from this planet. Joe Gardner’s hand movement, as he plays on the piano, is pure art and lifelike. With its concept, it’s more for adults than for children. Because it is us, grownups, that fail to understand the true meaning of life and its beauty.

Voiced by the stellar cast, including Jamie Foxx as Joe, Tina Fey as 22, Angela Basset as Dorothea Williams, with the soundtrack from the great Joe Batist, the film indeed plays with our soul and shake it a bit to get rid of all the negativities we have collected in our inner system. As for the characters, it is a whole different story that deserves a separate piece written. However, a few must be mentioned.

22 is one of the most interesting characters. This is a baby soul that does not want to live on Earth. She believes that there is nothing that’s worth a try. And when other babies in the Great Before were crashed during a game, she simply looks at Joe and says, “Don’t worry, souls do not crash here. For that, we have Earth.” As for Joe, he is a dreamer. He is a passionate pianist. But there is something missing in him that does not make him completely happy.

For instance, when he gets a full-time offer, with all the important benefits, he does not seem so excited about it. As someone who does not have a permanent job, perhaps he should have been? What is more interesting about Joe is that he is selected to mentor 22, however, it is 22 who will end up mentoring Joe as the man is yet to realize how wonderful life is, and why every moment must be cherished. And when that happens, we all get our lessons too, as to why we must live every minute of our life, appreciate the things we have, and, if it’s still not enough, we can work on it to make it better.

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