By: Trevor Chartrand

Director Marc Turtletaub, who helmed 2018’s thought-provoking drama Puzzle, delivers warm-and-fuzzies once again with this sophomore indie, Jules.  This surprisingly entertaining film is sweet, endearing, and often laugh-out-loud funny.

Jules stars an unrecognizable Ben Kingsley as Milton, an aging father who demonstrates early signs of Alzheimer’s, and possibly dementia.  His impatient, but loving daughter Denise (Zoe Winters) occasionally checks in on him, but he’s otherwise alone in a town that doesn’t take him seriously. 

In a genre-bending twist, an alien spaceship lands in his garden late one night (crushing his prized azaleas).  Due to Miilton’s condition, no one he talks to about it believes him.  A sickly alien soon emerges from the spaceship (played brilliantly by Jade Quon) and as Milton cares for the creature, he discovers the unique form of companionship that’s been missing from his life.

Jules is a brilliant film driven by a tight, simple narrative that really allows its performers to shine.  The story is lively and has a strong sense of humor, especially during a sequence involving roadkill that had me burst out laughing repeatedly.  The levity is there, as are the characters’ melancholic lamentations about their retirement years.

Kingsley (last seen in Daliland) is an amazing performer as always, but he’s also backed by a fantastic supporting cast here – with Harriet Sansom Harris and Jane Curtin as Sandy and Joyce, two elderly community members who discover the alien – which they name Jules – and help Milton take care of it.  The trio have fantastic chemistry and the characters expand in unexpected directions.  Joyce, for example, initially present herself as a cranky busybody, a cliché, but her own complicated truths soon reveal there’s much more to her.

Notably, the make-up and prosthetics department who worked on Jules deserve special mention here, having created an incredibly seamless alien creature, completely practically.  Prosthetics applied to Quon for the shoot were undoubtedly painstaking and time-consuming, but the final result is worth the effort.  Additionally, Kingsley’s make-up and wigs are something to behold as well.

Jules is a film that celebrates being old, and the notion that aging is simply a part of life.  Too often the elderly community are undervalued, leaving them feeling unheard and lonely.  Respect is in short supply, and this unique and heartwarming story reminds us that we all need love and attention, regardless of age.


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