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jules

★★★★

starring: ben kingsley, harriet harris, jane curtin, and zoe winters

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Milton lives a quiet life of routine in a small western Pennsylvania town, but finds his day upended when a UFO and its extra-terrestrial passenger crash land in his backyard.

What happens when you mix a gentle tale of retirees with sci-fi and a dash of indie film sensibility? Jules of course. Directed by the darling of the indie film world Marc Turtletaub (who produced Little Miss Sunshine and The Farewell among others), Jules is a sweet film packed with a lot of heart, with a superb lead performance from Sir Ben Kingsley. 

 

Jules follows Milton (Ben Kingsley) who lives a quiet life of routine in a small western Pennsylvania town, but finds his day upended when a UFO and its extra-terrestrial passenger crash land in his backyard. 

 

Before long, Milton develops a close relationship with the extra-terrestrial he calls "Jules." Things become complicated when two neighbors (Harriet Sansom Harris and Jane Curtin) discover Jules and the government quickly closes in. 

 

At first glance it may appear that Jules has competing themes: a stripped back, down to earth, light and lovely drama where the leads are older and an alien invasion. But the two themes never compete here but rather complement each other. 

 

The arrival of the alien Jules in their lives allows Milton, Sandy, and Joyce all to face their own personal challenges from Milton’s gradual declining health to Sandy’s grief about her husband’s passing and Joyce’s chronic loneliness. It brings a great sense of not only believability to proceedings, but becomes the beating heart of the film, with the unemotive, underplayed but emotional feel of an indie film. 

 

Even though Jules was produced on a smaller budget than most sc-fi epics, it hasn’t impacted the production design of Jules’ spaceship or even the creature design of Jules which appears to be a throwback to classic sci-fi aliens. While Jules’ alien story isn’t largely that original and borrows from the past, it's the situational nature of the story at large that makes Jules feel so fresh and new. 

 

Jules is a sweet film packed with a lot of heart, with a superb lead performance from Sir Ben Kingsley.

★★★★

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