Soul, Not Mind

Review of Pixar’s new movie Soul.

Soul, Not Mind

James Hoekstra, Writer

While not lacking in soul, Soul lacks direction. It’s a beautiful film with a powerful message about living your life, but falls short, being more like several shorts strung together. Everything in the afterlife is stunningly beautiful, as compared to on Earth where only while playing piano are things good. While one could argue it highlights Joe’s passion, but in actuality, it takes away from the message of your passion is not your purpose. The other message about living your life is also garbled. The whole no second chances meaning means nothing when Joe is allowed to come back to life, taking away the urgency of living, for, when death is not an issue, what then is life?

In addition to confusing messages and directions, Soul’s visuals follow a similar route. It jumps between amazing visuals, the stunning look at the afterlife and before life, to very basic looking things here on Earth. And while that does help highlight 22’s point about life on Earth, it’s still jarring to switch animation styles so harshly. Additionally, the general feel of Earth is off too. Everything there feels every skin-deep. It feels like it was made by aliens who have only viewed Earth and never stepped foot on it. It lacks the humanity and incredible feel of Earth, focusing only on the bad until the very last moments for mixed feelings on a good message they don’t quite know how to handle.

Despite its downs, the film still has some incredible moments. When 22, a lost soul from the beforelife, in Joe’s body is arguing with Joe’s mother and 22’s voice shifts to Joe’s, it makes for a powerful scene in which Joe (with a little help) is finally saying what he wants to do, rejecting his mother’s ideas for what he should do with his life.

This film is a mixed one. It’s confusing and weird, yet beautiful, in that way, it’s kind of a perfect metaphor for life. Ultimately though, it has some interesting views and a meaningful message and is worth watching at least once.