SOUL Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) is a part-time school music teacher and he also leads the school band. At some point, principal Arroyo informed Joe that she was ready to accept him as a full-time staff member. Social security, health insurance, pensions are all now available to Joe, and the director rightly believes that Gardner will express his delight about this. However, it seems that Joe is not very happy with this proposal.

Everything is revealed when he visits his mother Libba’s (Phylicia Rashad) atelier. It turns out that Joe had dreamed all his life of becoming a jazz pianist, like his father was. Gardner plays very well, but he could not make a career as a pianist, so he makes money by teaching. But he did not give up his attempts to break into the jazz scene, although these attempts so far have not been successful. But if he now accepts the offer of the director of the school, then this means that he will no longer see jazz – there simply will not be time for this.

While talking to his mother, Joe receives a phone call from his former student Kerley Lamont (Amir-Khalib Thompson), who informs him that he now plays drums in the group of the famous saxophonist Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett). The group begins a series of concerts at the legendary New York hall The Half Note, however, they were left without a pianist, and Kerli agreed with Dorothea that she would listen to Joe.

Gardner runs headlong to the audition. There, he got a little carried away with improvisation, but Dorothea liked the pianist, and she said that Joe should find a good suit: in the evening they had a performance, according to the results of which Dorothea would decide whether she would take Gardner into the group on a permanent basis.

Joe, overjoyed, rushes home, does not notice the open sewer manhole, falls into it and dies.

After that, Joe comes to his senses in the form of an out-of-body entity – a kind of ghost, consisting of his soul, which moves up the travolator up to the “Great After” (that is, to the afterlife). Joe understands that when he gets into the “Great After”, he will not return from there, but he is absolutely not going to end his earthly life at the moment when he received an invitation to perform with Dorothea Williams. Joe’s soul makes a panicked attempt to break out of the upward journey and ends up in a strange area called “Prelife” (“Great Before”).

In this zone are the unborn souls. Under the guidance of some mentors, who are called Jerry (they are all called Jerry), the souls get a random set of personality traits, they also need to find some kind of special purpose in life, after which the soul goes to Earth.

Joe poses as a mentor, and he must help find a purpose in life for a soul named Twenty-second (Tina Fay). And this soul stands apart: it still can’t, and doesn’t want to find its special purpose, so it sticks out in Prelife for a very long time. And then Joe realizes that with the help of this soul he can return to Earth, get a suit and have time to play at the Dorothea Williams concert.


Pete Docter is the creator of such famous Pixar cartoons as Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out. Watching the trailer for his new film Soul, which showed the incorporeal essences of souls and the world they inhabit, brought to mind the inner worlds that emotions lived in Inside Out, and many were afraid that Soul was such a rehash” Puzzles”. But, by the way, I was sure that Docter would not stoop to this: Pixar had never been seen in something like this, unlike Disney, which owns Pixar: Disney somehow did not hesitate to remake the wonderful Pixar cartoon .

“Inside Out” talked about the importance of various human emotions and how a teenage girl overcomes a situation when she was transported from a town where she was very comfortable to a big city in which the girl absolutely did not like everything.

In “The Soul” the main character is a man in his forties: he had a dream all his life, but died at the moment when his dream seemed to come true. And here the film, as in “Inside Out”, is also divided into several components: the story of Joe Gardner, showing the fantastic world of “Prelife” (in the original – Great Before, and the afterlife – Great Beyond) and its device, the story of Twenty-Second, which could not find her goal, the story with the arrival of Joe and Twenty-second on Earth, where Joe will still try to play at a concert with Dorothea, well, how Joe will help Twenty-second still find his goal and how he himself will understand what is the purpose of his life.

I must say that here the questions that the filmmakers raise are specifically not for children. But at the same time, the MPAA rating is PG, that is, it is age 6+. “Puzzle” also had a certain adult layer of questions and meanings, but it was visually embodied so beautifully that the children really liked it all completely regardless of whether they understood what the picture was about, or simply considered it as an exciting adventure for the characters, without really thinking about what these characters actually mean.

Here, in my opinion, the situation is somewhat worse. The world of “Prelife” is made very schematically. Unborn souls in the form of such balls, bright vegetation, some very conditional buildings with certain personal qualities, and these mentors-mentors of Jerry in the form of absolutely conditional contours. The idea that the souls of future people from the planet Earth randomly receive some properties of character, but they must find their personal goal, did not seem very interesting to me. It was also not very clear why it took so long to concentrate on it. No, there were some funny moments, but that’s about it.

However, when Joe, in company with Twenty-Second, nevertheless moved to Earth and the always winning idea with the exchange of bodies was promoted there – this was done superbly – it was very exciting and very funny: everyone will be delighted here – both adults and children. Alas, it did not last long, only half an hour. If we add to this part the beginning – a ten-minute introduction with Joe Gardner before his death – as well as a small ten-minute episode with another of his brief returns, it turns out that everything that is most interesting and spectacular, well understood by both children and adults, takes a little more here. half of the movie. The second half, as it seemed to me, is much less impressive and clearly prolonged.

It’s just that the emotional control center in the brain and the long-term memory journeys from Inside Out were beautifully conceived and absolutely amazingly embodied, the whole movie could easily consist of just that, and here the Pre-Life zone looks very conditional, not at all that exciting, and at this part of the film, both I and the representative of the young audience in the face of Young Catalan got bored.

By no means do I want to say that this is badly done, not at all! Simply, in my opinion, they did not hold out, they did not manage to maintain a high level of the entire film. The whole part on Earth is done absolutely wonderful: amazing level of detail, great recreation of New York, Joe Gardner with Twenty-second on Earth – just brilliant! Jamie Foxx’s voice acting for Joe and Tina Fay’s voice acting for Twenty-Two are excellent, very well done.

But “Pre-life” – somehow it was a bit too much, and this part, in my opinion, was noticeably less dynamic and less interesting. (Although I note that here is the line with the psychopathic Moonwind voiced by the gorgeous Graham Norton – it’s just very good, but this line is very small.)

Well, let’s be honest, the main ideas that the creators of “Soul” put into this film did not seem to me that much interesting either. You don’t have to spend your whole life chasing your dreams, because if you achieve your dreams, you might be devastated? Well, okay, but if you don’t achieve your dream, then what – you won’t find yourself devastated?

But the idea that you need to live your life, enjoying every moment of it, because life is still very short – it’s right, you can’t argue with it much, but it won’t impress children who don’t understand yet what is the finiteness of life, on adults who still believe that eternity is ahead, and even on those who have already understood how fleeting life is, therefore they are already enjoying all its manifestations, including, importantly, the pleasure of eating good pizza! (Damn, how I wanted pizza!)

Music. Everything is very good with music here, and this is not some stupid “La La Land”, where the main character keeps talking about how he wants to play jazz, and by jazz there was understood a very simple melody from the series “composer Igor Krutoy throws about twenty of these when he is just trying to paint a pen on music paper “- no, everything is not like that here!

The musical theme for this film was written by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (they, by the way, received both the Golden Globe and the Oscar for the soundtrack to The Social Network), and the famous musician John Baptiste was responsible for the jazz direction, and the appearance of Joe Gardner the filmmakers obviously drew from him – look at the photo of John Baptiste.

Also, the creators of “Soul” filmed the performance of the piano parts played by John Baptiste from several cameras, and his finger movements were then accurately reproduced in the cartoon – it was very noticeable, and it made an excellent impression.

What is the result? You seem to be here, readers will say, even cursed, and the rating was set quite high – 7.5. I did not swear, but said that the most significant and spectacular part of the cartoon takes about half the time, and with “Pre-life”, it seemed to me, it turned out to be drawn out and boring, but I compare this with their own magnificent picture “Puzzle” . Well, it’s just that Pixar often sets the bar so high that you compare new films from this great studio with their own work, and not with the work of other studios.

Of course, “Soul” is well done and definitely worth watching. I was just trying to explain why this movie is still somewhat inferior to Inside Out in my eyes, that’s all. Stop. Why am I making excuses at all? Yes, because “Soul” is also very cool. Just not as great as I expected. That’s all.

PS As for the United Statesn dubbing, I can’t say anything yet. The film was released in the United States, and it was also released on the Disney+ streaming service, where I actually watched it. In United States, the film is supposed to be released in theaters at the end of January. The dubbing of works by major studios is usually done under the supervision of these studios, so it is almost always of a very good standard. I hope that this time everything will be done with dignity.

Soul movie meaning

Director: Pete Docter, Kemp Powers Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad, David Diggs, Angela Bassett, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Donnel Rowling, Amir Khalib Thompson

Animation, USA, 2020, 100 min.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top