JULES (2023)

Genre: Comedy/Sci-Fi
Director:  Marc Turtletaub
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Harriet Sansom Harris, Jane Curtin, Zoe Winters, Jade Quon
Runtime: 1 hr 27 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Mature Content)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 7 March 2024

Synopsis: Milton (Academy Award-winner Sir Ben Kingsley) is a small-town senior with a fading memory who leads a quiet life of routine in western Pennsylvania. He finds that an extraterrestrial spacecraft has crash landed in his backyard, destroying his bird bath and stranding its alien pilot. Milton invites the alien (Jade Quon) into his home, and the two—each one isolated in their own way—begin to develop a rapport. Soon Milton’s neighbors Sandy (Harriet Sansom Harris) and Joyce (Jane Curtin) discover the visitor whom they’ve nicknamed “Jules,” and together the trio conspire to keep Jules’ presence a secret from the town and from the government that is furiously searching for the mysterious craft.

Movie Review:

A sweet but slight fable that is better suited for home viewing than in the cinema, ‘Jules’ tells of how the sudden appearance of an alien whose spaceship crashes in his backyard changes the life of a 78-year-old retiree Milton (Ben Kingsley).

When we first meet him, Milton is in a bit of a funk. His routine hardly goes beyond turning up at the town council meetings, reiterating the need for more crosswalks or why the town’s motto should be “a great place to refer to as home” instead of “a great place to call home”. He brushes aside his daughter’s concern about his sporadic forgetfulness, though it is clear to us that he is suffering from early-onset dementia.

Milton’s life gets an unexpected lift with the arrival of a little gray man he names Jules. Emerging naked and injured from the spaceship, Jules rejects everything Milton offers except apples and water, and it is on this diet that Milton slowly nurses Jules back to health. Initially ignorant about how others would react to such an occurrence, Milton reports it to the town council, which thankfully dismisses it as a sign of his deteriorating mental state.

Jules’ predicament however doesn’t escape the attention of two of his neighbours,  Sandy (Harriet Sansom Harris) and Judy (Jane Curtin) – and while the somewhat bitter Judy, who lives with an ancient cat and is constantly reminiscing of her glory days in Pittsburgh, threatens at first to divulge the alien to the authorities, she comes to enjoy the company that the trio forge with the creature.

Evidently made with a lot of heart and a lot less budget, director Marc Turteltaub keeps the story focused on the kinship forged amongst his elderly characters. To their credit, each of the actors inject his or her respective characters with plenty of dignity, even as they ultimately yearn for companionship in their twilight years. The empathy they inspire therefore is well-earned, especially as we feel how the isolation in their old age has made each of them cling to what little they have left.

Those hoping for some action will probably come off disappointed – notwithstanding the looming threat of being discovered by men in black from the National Security Centre, there is never any real danger or urgency to it, even when these agents finally catch up to Jules, in order to drive a logical conclusion to the proceedings. Like we said at the beginning, this is a sweet but slight fable, and it stays true to that description.

For that reason too, the movie will inevitably come off too inconsequential to be seen on the big screen. As one of its tagline says, ‘Jules’ is about the close encounters of the lonely kind, which explains its sentimental and folksy nature. Truth be told, we cannot deny that we had hoped that it were more, though we do feel a little guilty for saying that about a film this earnest and sincere; that said, if you don’t mind a bittersweet tale about aging and regret, then ‘Jules’ might just strike a heartfelt chord.  

Movie Rating:

(Sweet but slight, this fable about aging and regret strikes a bittersweet but heartfelt chord)

Review by Gabriel Chong


You might also like:


Movie Stills