"Soul" is the new film produced by Pixar Animation, which sees Pete Docter return to directing after five long years, and released by Walt Disney Pictures on the Disney + streaming platform on Christmas Day. With its hour and forty of films, which identifies it as an animated feature film of just over the average duration, "Soul" manages to enchant adults who watch it, demonstrating the courage to want to make an entertainment product not only for children but even for those who, in theory, should have taken them to the cinema.
In the review there are spoilers, because I believe it is impossible to talk about this film without making it, so if you haven't seen “Soul” yet, you are invited not to continue further.
What is Soul about?
Joe Garner is a middle school music teacher who specializes in Jazz, who loves deeply and considers everything important to him in life. Unfortunately, his life was not all pink and flowers, because the career of a musician is made up of uncertainties and unpaid bills, at least until you can get a stable job (the famous plan B) or do that minimum of success that allows you to have bread on the table and a roof over your head every day. The film opens with the news that Joe Garner has finally secured a full-time, full-time job at the middle school where he teaches. The news would have made many spectators jump for joy in the room (myself in the first place) but it seems not to particularly touch the good Joe, who welcomes her coldly.
Coincidentally, another proposal comes to the good Joe shortly after, from a former student, and could fulfill the dream of his life: the possibility of playing in a club with Dorothea Williams and, perhaps, the opportunity to make music his life's work. Excited by the second proposal, Joe begins to walk the streets of the city without caring about anything and, unfortunately, in the end his inattention ends up killing him.
Feeling robbed of his possibilities, Joe will do everything not to end up in the Other World and in his escape he ends up at the I-Seminary, the place where the souls of future children prepare for life (We specify that the correct name should be something like to “Ante Mondo” but as we are pointed out it has been changed for marketing reasons).
In this dimension that precedes the birth, Joe will meet the soul 22, a guest of the I-Seminary now from time immemorial. And this will be the very beginning of the film.
Why do many call it an adult film?
The web is becoming populated with comments and reviews claiming that “Soul” is a film for adults and that it cannot speak to children. I find that there is some truth in what the tabloids claim but that the judgment is incomplete. Although it was released on December 25th, which will have led many, myself included, to say "If they released it on Christmas Day, and it's from Pixar, it'll be great to see as a family," the film is primarily aimed at adults. and teenagers.
I believe that this film is to be seen and reviewed over the years and with as many people as possible, as I assure you that a new reflection will arise each time.
"Soul" speaks to us and invites us to reflect on the meaning of life, on our dreams and on how much they mean for us. It is not easy to understand its message at an early age, although it can be an excellent time to talk between parents and children. In some ways it is a film where no one is wrong, since in one's life there are no 100% wrong choices but only choices that make us feel good about ourselves in the short and long term.
Animations, experiments and dubbing
Director Pete Docter says great attention has been paid to the correct portrayal of skin, hair, and clothing for the black characters. Primary purpose was a result that did not offend but that described plurality in the best possible way. Surely New York turns out to be a lively and hectic city and the moments with only black characters on the screen seem to be designed to become small paintings, such as the barber, the tailor shop of Joe's mother and the Jazz club.
For the musical sequences, the production has chosen to record real musicians, thus managing to recreate their performances entirely. By following the film it is therefore possible to play the entire pieces that drag Joe into his love for music.
Still from the point of view of animation, they pointed out to me, how the souls of future children are smokier than those of mentors, as they have not yet begun to live and form, and at the same time that that of 22 is not like that. vague like that of other children.
The characters of Jerry and Terry use a different style of animation in turn, thus managing to convey diversity without it ever being indicated at all.
As for the dubbing, we Italians have Neri Marcorè to lend their voices to Joe Garner and Paola Cortellesi for 22. From their first meeting, the two characters become the protagonists of a comic curtain on the voice of 22 who "has a woman's voice adult ". At this juncture the little soul explains that the Seminary-I inhabitants have no gender (not being born yet) and that she could speak in a deep old man's voice but prefer the one she uses at that time because it is considered the most irritating.
The end of Pixar's “redemption”?
Already with the release of Onward, also in 2020, I thought that Pixar Animation Studios had begun to be forgiven for having "stolen" the Oscar for the best animated film with Toy Story 4. This film represents another big step forward on the road to forgiveness but it is good that you continue on this path, in order to avoid releasing more completely forgettable films. Many feared that this film would be another “Inside Out” and, even if in some moments it would seem to recall it, I am happy that it maintains its depth without copying it in its entirety or taking up the same topics.
"Soul" is a film that speaks to several generations, breaking away from the now old concept according to which Disney products should primarily target children. Certainly as a film to show at Christmas to the whole family it is a bit subdued and Disney itself already offers products that can fill the whole day, but over the years all those who have misjudged it will re-evaluate it.