First promised for a theatrical release, Soul will finally land on Disney+ on December 25th. But what is this cinematic Christmas present for us? Critical.
It’s been a busy year for Pixar, which released not one, but two feature films in 2020. Soul follows the adventures of Joe Gardiner, a music teacher who has always dreamed of performing on stage and making a living off his passion. . But when he is finally offered the chance to do so, fate decides otherwise. An unfortunate move sends him to a fantastic place where he has to think about what it means to have a soul. He will befriend 22, a mischievous soul who refuses to leave “Previously Great”.
We have to admit, despite its pleasing appearance, the En Avant doesn’t really live up to the promises made by Pixar. However, we can’t wait for it as the studio has only offered us suites since Coco’s 2017 release. Therefore, Soul sounds like the answer to our prayers and promises a fruitful return to basics. A promise is made clearer when Soul is signed by Pete Docter, a scriptwriter adored from the studio after Là-Haut and Vice Versa, where he appears to be a worthy heir. After exploring the emotions of a teenage girl in a film released in 2015, the filmmakers are now raising more existential questions. What makes us who we are? With malevolence and wit that characterize them, the Pixar studio offers a mesmerizing dive into this new universe.
Exploring the mysteries of humanity is no easy task, especially when it comes to talking to children. However, with ease, Pete Docter, Kemp Powers and Mike Jones tied and untied their thread of intrigue. The scenarios, sometimes moving, sometimes funny aren’t very long and the minutes go by unnoticed. The adventures of the characters, each more endearing than the other, serve a greater purpose: to make life sweeter. We laugh, we cry and we are excited about traveling between these two worlds. Camille Cottin and Omar Sy interpreters are no strangers to this success as they both deliver flawless performances behind the mic, in 22 and Joe’s skins, respectively. It’s also worth noting that Ramzy Bedia hasn’t lost control since Ratz.Soul.
Visually, Soul is Pixar’s best. This film intelligently plays between the confluence of two universes, the real world and the “Great Before”. With a pastel color palette and clean lines, this fantastic universe is a visual slap and a monster of ingenuity. Little souls are represented as small cumulonimbus clouds while higher entities in the universe are satisfied with some abstract features. If representing this universe has become a tour de force, when we immerse ourselves in the jungles of New York City, the talent of the designers takes on its full dimensions. The city displays flamboyant fall colors and the decoration work is simply extraordinary. This must be something Pete Docter really cares about, as it comes from the Big Apple itself. This striking realism against the abstraction “Grand avant” takes on full meaning and reminds us of the beautiful parallels that Vice-Versa has made.
Music is central to the plot and this is arguably what makes Soul such a special feature in Pixar’s filmography. Like a character in his own right, he plays an important role and the composer has brilliantly managed to copy the different atmospheres of the film. It was composed for four hands by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, to whom we especially owe the musical theme of The Social Network. Jon Batiste also took part in the development of the original music, but this time with a more jazz accent. Still built in opposition, this film score is a rare splendor. So far, only Michael Giacchino has managed to offer such a beautiful soundtrack.
Ultimately, Soul is a beautiful ode to life that deserves a treat on the big screen. The audience has to settle for a personal experience, but still fun. Pixar is at the top of its game and delivers entertainment that’s beautiful, gentle, and highly effective. The studio put their whole soul into it and it worked.