Wonderfully imaginative and heartwarming, this film is aimed at adults as well as children.
As we have seen previously, Pixar’s strength is creating films that are heartwarming and thought provoking – particularly seen thanks to Inside Out in which you see what life is like for one little girl through the emotions that control her.
In a sense, there are some similarities in that regard with Soul – although spun from a different view point in this case – from the perspective of what makes us unique. It is a search for the meaning of life – done in a playful but meaningful way.
The story begins as music teacher Joe discovers he has a music gig, performing alongside jazz saxophonist Dorothea Williams. However, excited as he is – he ends up falling down an open man hole and finds himself on the moving staircase to the Great Beyond. But determined as he is not to give up his life he runs away and ends up in the Great Before, meeting 22 who doesn’t wish to join Earth no matter who has tried to persuade her. Joe promises to help her find her spark if she will help him return to his life.
Written by Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers, the film feels very philosophical and will leave you reflecting on your own life by the end of it. Yet the script itself is never heavy handed and is still filled with the playful humour that you would expect of a Pixar film. In particular, I loved the concept for the lost souls and how they need reminding of what life is about – it is something that is completely relatable to anyone who has felt as though they have lost their way at some point.
The writing has a real strong emotional core to it, particularly as you learn more about Joe and 22’s very different perspectives. In one scene in which Joe sees glimpses of his life up until this point, it proves to be very poignant moment as it shows that he has been so involved in his own little world, he has stopped noticing what life has to offer.
Visually and technically, full credit to those who have helped animate this film. Every scene is filled with such imagination – with the scenes in the Great Before, really dazzling colour wise in contrast with the richness of detail shown in the jazz scenes – this has been a real labour of love for everyone involved.
On top of all of this, the cast that has been assembled provide so much personality to their characters, it really feels as though they will jump off the screen. In particular, Tina Fey as 22 captures the emotional complexities of her character well (particularly after the body swapping incident), Jamie Foxx offers real charisma and warmth to the character Joe, while Graham Norton as Moonwind is immensely likeable with a hint of quirkiness.
Ultimately, while Soul is about the search for the meaning of life, it also teaches us that perhaps we should also be celebrating it with every little thing that we experience day in day out. Uplifting, entertaining and thoughtful – it is a wonderful addition to the Pixar and Disney trove of treasures.
By Emma Clarendon
Soul is available to watch now via Disney +