Ben Kingsley disappears into every character he plays, and the quiet senior citizen he becomes in Jules is no exception. The fact that he has a mop of hair and no trace of a British accent should come as no surprise; this is an actor who has played everyone from Mahatma Gandhi to Salvador Dali, not to mention his wide range of fictional characters in films as diverse as The Wackness and House of Sand and Fog.
In Jules, writer Gavin Steckler and director Marc Turtletaub have given him a part he can play with, an understated senior citizen whose life has fallen into a routine. He shows up at his hometown’s weekly council meeting, where he repeats the same suggestions he has made countless times before, and tends to the azaleas in his garden. When a flying saucer crashes in his back yard he tries to tell someone—anyone—that an alien has landed on his property but no one believes him, so he goes about his business and tends to the simple needs of his visitor from afar.
In time, two women who know him from the weekly meetings become involved, and as they are played by Harriet Sansom Harris and Jane Curtin, they (like Kingsley) are not caricatures or archetypes but believable people with amusing traits and quirks.
Jules is a slight film but an enjoyable one. It reminded me of Robot and Frank (2012) which gave a good part to another veteran actor, Frank Langella. The resemblance is superficial, except that I’ve come to value any film that offers actors I like something offbeat to add to their resumé. By the way—and not so incidentally—Jules tells its story in a compact 90 minutes.