Directed by Pete Docter, Soul is the story of Joe, an aspiring Jazz Musician, and his spiritual journey to understanding what it means to live and have a purpose.
No offense to probably my favorite animation studio in the world, but lately, it felt like Pixar went on vacation after Coco (2017). They still gave us two very good installments in Toy Story 4 and The Incredibles 2, but that’s all they were. Installments to an established storyline that did very little to really ‘surprise’ me. In fact, apart from Coco, Pixar hadn’t really lived up to their ridiculously high standards since Inside Out (2015). I feel relieved to say, Pixar has been right here, waiting for the right script, and with Soul, it is as good as it has ever been.
Everything just works
This is Pixar’s most mature film yet. Period. I’d even go so far and say, this movie is not for kids at all. Soul is Pixar’s long-awaited gift to all fans that grew up watching their classics. Recognizing exactly how old they must be right now and maturing their stories with them. Soul is so ‘Pixar’ yet so far away from its mainstream filmography, that it makes me wonder how Disney even green-lit it. With Soul, there is essentially no merchandise to be sold and no sequels to be made. It is Pixar back to old school but with its boldest animation yet.
Soul makes a strong impression even before the title card shows up. This isn’t a surprise since Soul comes from the mind of Pete Docter, who also directed Inside Out. Much of the world in Soul reminded me of the Construct of the mind in Inside out. With animation and music so profound yet subtle, I felt myself sinking in my seat despite watching it on a mere 15inch screen. I stopped early on to switch to my 55inch OLED and oh was it worth it. Soul contains some of the most daring and surreal animation sequences Pixar has made yet.
Just let the artists do their thinS
Above everything else, Soul just feels pure and untouched from corporate agendas. Some character designs and traits feel highly metaphysical and abstract for mainstream animation. Something my brain was too primitive to comprehend (which was probably the point) and I loved all of it. These pure artistic expressions are exactly what Pixar has stood for. Pushing the boundaries of animation storytelling, like it has all these years.
The voice acting is exactly what it needs to be from both leads. There are a few casting choices that were a pleasant surprise and worked wonderfully. Even though the film is very much surrounded by Jazz, the music doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s there when we need it to be and isn’t overwhelming to distracts us from the big picture. To contemplate.
Approach with an open mind and Soul will tell you something you’ve probably heard before but never experienced quite in this way. Just like any classic Pixar film, Soul’s strength is its simplicity. Arguably, it has nothing new to offer but at the same time could remind us about something fundamental we’ve all taken for granted.
Soul is the manifestation of Pixar maturing alongside its fans that grew up watching their classics, giving us their most fearless film yet. Devoid of any commercial agendas, it’s back to simple, untainted, and quality animation storytelling that’s one of Pixar’s finest works in the last decade.