Soul review – Fantasia meets A Matter of Life or Death

A jazz-loving music teacher ends up in the beforelife in this existential Pixar beauty from the director of Up and Inside Out

This typically ambitious Pixar animation comes on like a fever-dream cross between Disney’s Fantasia and Powell and Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death, with a bizarre hint of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones thrown in for good measure. A tale of a music teacher who loses his life but discovers his soul, it’s a visually sumptuous riot of ideas, pitched somewhere between a playful musical, a divine comedy and a metaphysical drama.

Just as the Minions movie opened to the delightful helium sounds of its heroes happily “ba-ba-BA”-ing the famous Universal theme, so Soul begins with the distinctive Disney anthem being jazzily murdered by a discordant school band. If music teacher Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) could wish upon a star, he’d wish to be somewhere else, preferably tinkling the ivories at a swinging club. Joe’s dream comes true when he gets a late-in-the-day call asking him to sit in with hip jazz saxophonist Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett). The audition goes well – so well, in fact, that Joe leaves with his head in the clouds and promptly falls to his death down an open manhole.

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