Starring: Ben Kingsley, Harriet Harris, Zoë Winters, Jane Curtin, Jade Quon, and Anna George
Director: Marc Turtletaub
I’m not sure how to feel about Jules except to say that I liked it. I think. It’s a weird little tale that feels longer than its runtime, yet still ends before fully committing to the movie it wants to be. It slowly creeps along as a slice-of-life drama, dabbles into a character-driven look into aging’s devastating effects, then adds a dash of quirky sci-fi thriller. While those meandering tones provide bits of laughter and heart tugs along the way, the story’s throughline barely holds the plot together, being just interesting enough to keep me connected through the end credits.
Watching Jules is like visiting your grandparents to have a chat on an otherwise busy weekend. Everyday comings and goings are accentuated and, except for giggling at your quirky grandpa’s occasional F-bomb, it is rather mundane. Jules makes you feel warm inside the same way grandma’s lasagna does, even though it will never be mistaken for one crafted by expert chef Thomas Keller. The acting is well performed, and nonsensical CGI effects are avoided. Mostly, the simple storytelling gives us an opportunity to sympathize and empathize over the inevitable decline we all face as life pushes forward.
I wouldn’t blame you for never having heard of Jules – I hadn’t until it released – but in the midst of a timid August release schedule, it’s nice to have a charming little indie like it floating around. There’s not much that’s especially novel about it, and most of the jokes don’t land, but the sweetness of the narrative ended up winning me over, nonetheless. That said, most things on the fringes of the narrative – like Ben Kingsley’s family connection subplot – don’t really work as well as they could, becoming the unfortunate collateral damage lost in the story’s telling.