Soul ★★★★½

I can't imagine I'd have reacted to "Soul" the way I did if I'd have seen it any other year. Which isn't to say I wouldn't have liked it; I'd certainly have appreciated the delicate story and liquid visuals and dreamily gorgeous original score (Reznor! Ross!) in any year. But now ... it's like how I ended up watching A Christmas Carol differently this year, too (which is to say: I watched "The Muppet Christmas Carol"), at least the part where Scrooge gets to go back to his life with some perspective and appreciate that which he nearly lost. I sat with that for a while this time.

Last week marked nine months since I left the home I'd made for myself as an adult for the last 12 years and took refuge in the home I grew up in as a child. It has been, as they say, a weird year. An awful year, yes, for so many, and an awful exile from my city that I love, but also in some ways a fortunate year. Getting to spend time with and lean on my now-elderly parents has been a gift. I began this quarantine in something of a (non-COVID) health crisis and have been able to more or less begin to right my ship, no small thanks to this cocoon I've kept safe in. I turned 40 this year, with all its attendant weirdness and regret but also with my friends on a Zoom reading "The Hours." My sister had her baby this year, making me an uncle for the first time, and while we've kept our frustratingly responsible distance, I've been able to see him and hold him and make faces at him from behind my mask. The Bills are gonna win their division for the first time since I was a teenager, and I got to watch every single game with my dad, probably for the first time since I was a teenager.

And yet I ~ache~ to get back home. To my city. And of all the things I'm so impatient to return to — friends, theaters, drinking, kissing — the thing I find myself most often daydreaming about is going back and just ... walking around. Just traversing all over, as often as I can, up and down those streets I've hustled down a million times en route to wherever. I can't imagine I won't be obnoxious as hell trying to drink it all in again, just open up all my pores and let that city seep back into me, with the full, grateful knowledge of how long I'd lost it. That's where "Soul" got me: in those lovingly observed streets and shop signs and sidewalks and conversations. And in the way the movie says your life can be about ... that. It can be about looking around you and being good at walking. And that's beautiful. In another year, I'd have intellectualized that message easily enough and probably been politely moved by it; but this year I find myself grasping it with two desperate, greedy fists.

Also Rachel House is a treasure and is so funny in this!

joereid liked these reviews