‘Soul’ Review: Pixar’s New Feature Gets Musical, and Metaphysical
Type of. Soul’s ingenuity makes it impossible to spoil, but because it’s dedicated to surprise and the improvisational qualities of existence, I want to be lighthearted. Suffice it to say that Joe is suddenly suspended from Manhattan, where he meets a rebellious soul named 22 who speaks in the voice of Tina Fey.
Not yet assigned to any particular human form, 22 chose this voice for its annoying properties, and it has spent much of eternity driving everyone crazy – except for the Jerrys, who have infinite patience (and in the soothing tones of Wes Studi speak). Alice Braga and Richard Ayoade). There’s also someone named Terry (Rachel House), the resident bean counter who is a spikier figure and in need of as much villain as this gentle, melancholy fantasy.
However, 22 does not see the point in going to earth to settle in a body. Joe is desperate to get back into his own, and her conflicting, complementary desires send her back to earth in a caper with a changed identity. Each is each other’s crazy buddy, and each one teaches the other some valuable lessons.
The didactics of film is sincere, not undesirable and inextricably linked to its art. Jazz is not a side effect of “soul”, but an integral part of his argument about how beauty is created, preserved and valued – and the basis for a specifically black experience in New York.
Joe’s play is energetic and serene, taking him into a zone that is witty literally expressed as an area between the earth and the spirit world. (Other visitors to this border region are a mystic on the street corner named Moonwind voiced by Graham Norton.) Jon Batiste’s beautiful jazz compositions alternate with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ subtle, cerebral score, creating a sonic bridge between the sensual and the abstract, the physical and the metaphysical.
Like other Pixar films, “Soul” is aware of its own paradoxes. The “Toy Story” cycle is a humanistic epic about inanimate objects. “Inside Out” is an exuberant fable about the meaning of sadness. This is a powerfully ambitious warning against taking ambition too seriously. Every soul, the Jerrys explain, has a spark that sends it out into the world. Joe and 22 understand this to mean that each has a unique purpose, a flaw that reflects a competitive, career-focused ideology that the film cannot completely reject.
However, it is open to other possibilities that can be anything that a work of art can be. In the context of the imperatives of commercial brand entertainment, “Soul” tries to create an identity for itself as something other than a blockbuster or a technologically revolutionary masterpiece. It’s a small, delicate film that doesn’t hit every note perfectly, but its combination of skill, feeling and inspiration is summed up in the title.
Rated PG. Mortality. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes. Check out Disney +.