‘Jules’ (2023) Review: Ben Kingsley’s Film Is Hilariously Heartwarming And Will Leave You In Shambles

As if all the alien talk in the real world wasn’t enough, Mark Turtletaub’s Jules is going to make you want to have a little alien crash into your own backyard. The independent film starring Ben Kingsley, Jane Curtin, and Harriet Sansom Harris in pivotal roles is one that touches upon some difficult themes in a rather amusing manner. There are many moments of genuine, jaw-splitting laughter in this film that came as a complete surprise to me. Of course, without the Hollywood pomp and glamour, nobody would’ve heard about this little indie, but this film is better than many extraterrestrial experiments. Most importantly, even with such an extraordinary premise, it’s a very ordinary tale of loneliness and aging.

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Jules follows an old man named Milton from a small town. Every week during the council meetings, Milton makes the same suggestions regarding the town slogan and a crosswalk that he has to use that could cause serious accidents. One night, a UFO crashes in his backyard, leaving Milton in a daze. And before he knows it, he’s sharing a home with an alien. 

Ben Kingsley shines in his role as Milton, a lonely old man who is slowly starting to feel his age through his growing forgetfulness. He’s estranged from his son and cautious about connecting with his daughter because she’s always busy. Milton’s problems are poignant and very real, and at every other scene, I couldn’t help but feel like he was my own granddad. I cannot miss out on talking about Jade Quon as the titular Jules, of course, who does so much without doing anything at all. Jules is a being who just sits still and looks pretty. Just kidding; Jules is an actual alien, so he (according to the oldies who befriend him) does “alien things,” but he also doesn’t make a single sound throughout the film. I found this extremely interesting because there’s always some form of verbal communication in these films, or at least some kind of audible interaction, but this particularly works for Jules because it speaks so much about the nuances of “communication” in general. Milton invites Sandy, a friendly neighbor, over, and soon they bond over Jules. It’s astounding how an almost inanimate being is able to evoke a sense of community amongst people who would never have talked otherwise. They’re joined by Joyce, the town skeptic who is always mad at Milton for making it so that the council doesn’t take them seriously.

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In Jules, a truly unique bond unfolds, weaving a captivating narrative that takes us on an extraordinary journey of friendship, self-discovery, and moments of poignant sadness. The heart of the story lies in the connection formed between three elderly individuals in the presence of an enigmatic alien. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that this film is not of the typical sci-fi blockbuster type. Jules doesn’t boast Marvel-level action sequences or mind-bending CGI spectacles (although the prosthetics and necessary CGI are really impressive). Instead, it immerses you in the world of aging, with women who might struggle with fractions and an alien who displays an unusual penchant for apples. Yet, this unconventional blend of elements is precisely what makes the film a refreshing departure from the expected. While the film’s title may suggest that it revolves solely around Jules, it becomes evident that the alien character serves as a captivating subplot. The film’s true essence lies in its exploration of the human experience—aging and family dynamics take center stage. It’s a testament to the power of subtlety, where seemingly insignificant details can illuminate profound truths about life and relationships, allowing us to see things much more clearly.

Bring a box of tissues, especially if you have older parents and cry easily, and also for all the laughter. Visually, the film hasn’t given me anything to complain about. This film looks like any TV movie with some warm color grading. The setup of the small town is wonderful, and everything somehow looks relatable. This film boasts an excellent cast, and it shows in its presentation. The cast does all the heavy lifting, which works perfectly for such a genre. I’d say watch this film with your parents or grandparents and have that family movie night you’ve been wanting for years. This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a mix of everything that kids these days like and that old people can relate to. The music is not extraordinary; it’s just about right, like the apples for Jules, probably.

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While I don’t think Jules is an award-winning film, it’s still worth watching. though there should be a category for sentimentality in award shows, just because that speaks to human nature the most, ah but I dream big. I think Jules particularly stands out as a really good movie because it doesn’t follow the pattern of quick pacing and squeezing too much content to make it fit into its limited runtime. The film takes it slow and is very in tune with the message it’s trying to put out. That’s a huge win, if you ask me. I’m itching to show this film to my family because I think it would be something fun to bond over and laugh about.

Jules is barely over 90 minutes, too, making it ideal for the busy schedules of today. Additionally, you don’t have to keep your eyes peeled or pay attention to small details like you’d expect to in this genre. There’s some profanity, no nudity (unless you consider Jules naked), and no violence in this film. If I didn’t make it clear enough already, I highly recommend Mark Turtletaub’s film, especially if you’re looking for something that makes your insides go mushy. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars (yeah, I really liked it).

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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Jules is barely over 90 minutes, too, making it ideal for the busy schedules of today. Additionally, you don't have to keep your eyes peeled or pay attention to small details like you'd expect to in this genre.'Jules' (2023) Review: Ben Kingsley's Film Is Hilariously Heartwarming And Will Leave You In Shambles