jing’s review published on Letterboxd:
Over the course of 2020, with one movie after another postponed, Soul has become one of my most anticipated films of the year. I initially wanted to watch it as soon as it came out, but I’ve only gotten around to it now, and what can I say? My expectations were high, especially after seeing the average rating stay at 4.2 despite the increasing views, but Soul managed to blow me away like few movies have.
What is the point of life? What is our purpose? What is our spark? Soul’s release comes at a time where many of us might be struggling with these fundamental questions, and even more so after an undoubtedly unprecedented year for all of us. Before 2020, I, in all honesty, didn’t even know what the word “pandemic” meant, but over the past 10 months, it has been all there is. And with the word came an oddly disjointed sort of routine, at least for me: waking up, staring at my phone, maybe having lunch, more staring at various kinds of screens, some junk food, and sleep. Almost no social interactions other than reading some tweets, maybe. As the year went on, the routine turned into some kind of “new normal”, and although everyone slowly learned to live with the additional hardships 2020 has caused us, some questions remained: When will we go back to how things used to be? Is our sole meaning during this pandemic to push through so we can go out and simply live like “before” again? And once we do, where will we find our meaning then?
Soul doesn’t try to give us bland answers to these questions. Instead, it takes us on a wondrous journey full of love, heart and—no pun intended—soul. This film feels like a tender invitation to get lost in its staggering world, and not a second falls short of the warmth dominating the story. It is a story about hope, love, friendship and discovery. Although Soul doesn’t directly provide us with an answer to the question of purpose, it shows us that purpose can be found in the smallest of things, be it looking up at the sky, pizza, yarn, or maple seeds.
Needless to say, Soul’s story couldn’t be half as impactful without its beautiful writing and staggering animation. The equally charming and human characters make it easy to feel both their struggles and joys, subsequently making Joe’s transcendent happiness when he’s improvising feel just as real to us as 22’s joy when they discover an air vent. The animation style works perfectly with its inventive premise and storyline. Accompanied by the beautiful writing and atmospheric soundtrack, it becomes a symphony of emotion, leading us to laugh, smile and cry. I admittedly have a lot of catching up to do in terms of animated films, but what makes the tool of animation stand out for me is its ability to tell stories almost beyond our imagination, and this movie doesn’t once hesitate to use its possibilities to the fullest extent.
An invigorating tale overflowing with lush colors, rich characters and imaginative sceneries, Soul, at its core, searches for an answer to the fundamental question of meaning, and it does so beautifully. However, it teaches us not to blindly chase what we might perceive as our predetermined purpose, rather, it reminds us of the happiness that is surrounding us if we’re willing to look for it. In the end, Soul is a marvelous ode to life.
< The Grand Budapest Hotel
> Another Round