Review Soul: A prodigy of animated delicacy that asks deeper questions than any other film of the year

'Soul' (review): A prodigy of animated delicacy that asks deeper questions than any other film of the year.

We had to wait for the very last straight of the year to face one of the most emotional and unclassifiable productions of the last twelve months. It is a pity that this captivating Pixar proposal is not going to be seen in theaters, because visually it is a real marvel, but the good part is that we can already taste it on Disney +. 

And after the slight stumble of 'Onward', an interesting but not especially devastating proposal, this 'Soul' arrives to demonstrate why Pixar continues to occupy the Pixar throne.

Pete Docter's new film (co-directed by Kemp Powers) ties in with some of the company's other productions, and although it is absolutely unique in some respects and indeed a giant leap forward in many ways , it is easy to link with previous films such as 'Coco' , which also talks about what is behind death. 

And within Docter's filmography, it is easy to detect points of union with ' Up ' -also very concerned about death and its consequences, albeit from an earthly point of view- and with 'From the reverse', with its stupendous visualization of emotions abstract.

Here we meet Joe (Jamie Foxx), a frustrated high school music teacher who sees that he has the first opportunity of his life to do what has been his lifelong aspiration, play jazz live. His enthusiasm leads him to have an accident and appear in an "life after death", where his soul has to act as guardian of 22 (Tina Fey), a heavy unborn soul who does not find the "spark" that will give meaning to his future life. But an accident will lead Joe to reconsider everything that has been his existence up to that point.

Although the plot sounds serious, of course, we are in a Pixar film: humor forms the backbone of Joe's entire journey, with gags as lucky as 22 encounters with prominent tutors or the joyous slapstick that punctuates the second half of the film, cat included. However, it is possible that 'Soul' is the film most oriented to an adult audience that Pixar has made to date, perhaps due to the concepts it handles, possibly very complex for children.

The concepts and, above all, the approach that 'Soul' spends the distance from all the clear precedents mentioned. For example, in 'Coco' they talked about death, but from experiences that children could understand. The same happened in 'Del Reverse', where abstract concepts were handled but showed their counterpart "in real life", making them quickly assimilable. 

In fact, 'Soul' may mark the distance between traditional Walt Disney Animation Studios, which will continue 'Frozen II' with fantasy and adventure films such as 'Stripe and the last dragon' or 'Encanto', and a Pixar that in movies Future projects like 'Luca' could offer more mature proposals. 

Regardless of the story that 'Soul' wants to tell (and where Pixar reaches the usual narrative excellence thanks to its fascinating use of scenarios with deep symbolic impact), this new film from the production company is above all a sensory pleasure never seen before. 

The use of jazz (incredible also the musical sequences in nightclubs), the design of the characters (look at the catalog of characters in the barbershop, a small masterpiece in itself) ... everything is extraordinary in a film whose greatness is in the details.

Regardless of all this, there will be those who find the message debatable, or even somewhat disheartening, but it is perfectly in line with that wonderful "sadness is also essential" from 'The Upside Down' and invites you to enjoy the pizzas and subway trips which may be, at this point and now, the most vital message possible. 

Whether or not you identify with what 'Soul' wants to convey, it is clear that the film does it perfectly, using such sophisticated tools as the soundtrack or the use of objects, which give rise to a silent climax of tremendous beauty.

It remains to be seen what will happen to this Christmas premiere directly on Disney +. Docter is right to complain that he will not go through theaters, because sequences like those of walks through sunny New York - or, conversely, scenes of rapturous dark abstraction in the Afterlife - are worthy of being enjoyed on the big screen. 

Let's hope that future Pixar films will receive all the consideration that 'Soul' proves well enough that they deserve : that of essential pieces of animated cinema.

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