Violent and moody crime thriller has murder, nudity.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Soul is a violent and bloody not-for-kids crime thriller with some adult themes. Based on the Jiang Bo novel, Yihun Youshu (Moving Souls), this sharp Taiwanese and Chinese coproduced adaptation revolves around a married couple working together to solve the murder of an incredibly wealthy businessperson. Liang Wen-Chao is the lead prosecutor for the case, while his wife, Ah-Bao, is the lead detective. They are a strong team, and some call them the best in the business. But there is something off about this murder. Expect violence, blood, and some moments of brutality. The central murder around which the case revolves is represented many times in real time throughout the film's runtime. Also, two different people kill themselves (one jumps off a cliff and the other injects a drug). The film has some nudity (a fully naked woman stands in front of a mirror and some male mannequins have life-like penises). Adults smoke cigarettes and drink beer. A woman inhales hallucinogens. "Hell" is said.
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What's the Story?
In THE SOUL, Liang Wen-Chao (Chen Chang, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Ah-Bao (Janine Chun-Ning Chang, Here to Heart) are dealing with Liang's cancer treatment options. Frustrated with the timing of available technologies, Ah-Bao seeks out better opportunities. Meanwhile, Liang wishes to get back to work, so he can focus on something other than his cancer. And when Mr. Wang, who is worth billions, gets murdered in his own home and in his own bed with his new wife found alive next to his body, Liang gets his chance.
Is It Any Good?
This film is close to being great, with slick production, strong acting, and intricate plot. Quite simply, the central mystery in The Soul is captivating. But the film is anything but simple, and in fact is quite twisty and fantastic in the way it builds. Questions mount, suspicions increase, and secrets are exposed. Director Wei-Hao Cheng easily slips into an engaging pace and stylizes the tone of the film more on the realism side than film noir. The subtle difficulty of the complicated plot is also on full display as on paper, the story is difficult to even simply summarize. But the film is somehow never confusing, and most viewers will be fully invested by the end.
But again, the film is close to being great, and not, sadly, purely great. Mainly this has to do with the ending being potentially very unsatisfactory. Further, the love story between two of the side characters (but central to the story) is timidly represented, and the characters seem unable to say easily descriptive words, like "gay" or "queer" or "trans," for example, which may lead to some feeling like part of the film's producers may have outlawed certain aspects of the script, film, or editing. Also, for a film set in the future, some of the special effects (like the shot of a young woman jumping off a cliff onto a highway, killing herself) are awfully poor and look quite unrealistic.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about violence in thriller and crime drama films. In The Soul, was the violence too much or unjustified? Why or why not?
In many ways, this film is partly a romance. What do you think about the love story embedded within the intricate plot? Was it represented well? How might you have represented it differently?
Given the science fiction elements and the fact that it's set in the future (2030s), what technologies and ideas on display in the film excited you most? What about the idea of transferring someone into another body? If that were to ever become possible, would you want to do it? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: April 26, 2021
- Cast: Chen Chang, Janine Chun-Ning Chang, Anke Sun, Christopher Ming-Shun Lee
- Director: Wei-Hao Cheng
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 130 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
For kids who love thrills
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