When I was eight years old, I remember sitting in the movie theatre with my younger sister and father to watch this movie about some clownfish. I admit I don’t remember much of the actual movie from that day, but I do remember the ending. Mostly because I looked over at my father with tears streaming down his face. Years later, I understood why Finding Nemo moved my father to tears, and I understand that Pixar films are viewed from two entirely different perspectives.
Chances are, at some point in the last two weeks since it’s release, you’ve heard about Pixar’s new movie Soul. I’m not entirely sure if it was always scheduled for a holiday 2020 release, but it simply could not have come out at a better time. A time where our country has been ravaged by a virus for almost a year and has forced us to spend more time inside and alone than ever, which simply seems amplified by the holidays. That being said, if there was ever a movie to find the hour and forty minutes for, it’s this one.
You follow middle school band teacher Joe Gardner voiced by Jamie Foxx, into the afterlife due to an untimely death. Joe Gardner is also Pixar’s first black lead character which is sadly long overdue, but what a first it was. The cast is primarily black as well, and the internet was awash with praise for the studio and accurate representation. While it’s no secret that Pixar can make a visually stunning film, they seem to have taken it to a new level with their use of light and composition in this movie.
I found myself almost struggling to explain the message that Soul is trying to convey, and like any good film, there is, of course, more than one. This film deals with everything from lack of self-worth, a desire for fulfillment, and of course, playing a mean jazz piano. Soul’s absolute crowning achievement is undoubtedly it’s the portrayal of a man who learns to simply love life. This is not a new concept to film, but I struggle to think of one that’s done it better in recent times.
It’s not about simply enjoying your job or your haircut; it’s everything in between. The stillness of a warm summer breeze through the New York City streets, the feeling of ivory keys under your fingertips. Being in love with life and all that it provides is where you can find true fulfillment and satisfaction. We are so lucky to wake up every day and experience life, and when we as people understand this, all those little “common” occurrences just get a little more special and a little more beautiful.
Soul is a movie that will humble you and not just for an hour after the screen goes dark. It gets under your skin, unlike other films. I’ve watched plenty of movies in my time and will think about them after I’ve exited the theatre and the messages they were conveying to the audience. I credit this to the fact that anyone can watch this and relate to it, especially now. In a time where so many have lost so much, and the world seems to be on fire, we could all use a little more gratitude in our souls.