Every so often, there comes a movie so moving and thoughtful that it just makes you feel life a little differently post-watch. In 2021, that movie for me was Pig, and last year it was Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris. We’re not at the end of the year just yet, but I have a feeling Jules will be that film for me this year. It’s a wonderful film, and it’s great to see Sir Ben Kingsley in a movie that gives him the space to strut his acting chops (no offense, Daliland).
Kingsley plays Milton, a 78 year old man who’s demonstrating early signs of dementia. He’s putting a can of beans in the bathroom cabinet, and delivering the same speech to the town council every single day. His daughter Denise (Zoë Winters) still lives in town, and helps him manage his life, but his son moved away and wants nothing to do with him. Milton’s humdrum life is interrupted when a UFO crashes into his azaleas and an alien enters his life. Despite telling everyone quite blatantly that there’s a UFO is in his backyard, no one believes him because of his prior dementia symptoms.
Hilarity ensues as we watch him proclaim this to various people, especially since we know it’s real. Soon, other community members like Sandy (Harriet Sansom Harris) and Joyce (Jane Curtin) also get involved in the situation, and they end up calling the alien Jules (Jade Quon). The movie has quite a few of these comedic set pieces, and honestly every single one of them made me laugh out loud. It’s so heartwarmingly funny to watch Milton and the gang go about their out-of-the-norm endeavours so earnestly.
The movie highlights how we treat the elderly in society, how quickly we dismiss their agency just because we feel we know better, or take advantage of them just because we can. It’s clear how Milton, Sandy and Joyce just want to be of use, which is why they spend so much time putting forth suggestions to the town council. But none of these suggestions pan out, and when they do, it’s in a way that backfires. Until they meet Jules, they don’t realise how lonely they’ve become in their own lives, drifting through each day on a mundane routine. Being with Jules, who doesn’t judge and merely listens, allows them to express whatever they desire. Milton dreads asking Denise for any help since she gets irritated with him, and even though he reaches out to his son, he’s also aware that his own actions have led to the distance present in their relationship.
As I mentioned before, Kingsley is in top form here, and very relatable as Milton. He’s avoidant when it comes to the whole dementia situation, but also gets to a point where he confronts what’s happening to him. Both Harris and Curtin are equally delightful, as is Quon’s performance as Jules. It’s a non-speaking role, so it’s a credit to Quon’s performance that I’m able to understand Jules so well. With all the talk of aliens lately, it’s nice to get a movie with a nice and gentle alien, and get a break from extraterrestrials wanting to exterminate the human race.
Ageing is an undeniable part of the human condition, however, it’s not something we embrace. Maybe it’s because we know what the next phase is, and that knowledge is difficult to deal with. The hardest part of living is knowing that you have to see things through till the very end, even when things aren’t pretty anymore.
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Jules is a beautiful gem of a film. It will make you laugh as much as you cry.
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