Cold Souls: Movie Review
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson, Dina Korzun, Katheryn
Winnick, Lauren Ambrose
Director: Sophie Bartes
Yes, there's echoes of Being John Malkovich here - but Cold Souls is a
slightly different affair.
Paul Giamatti (complete with sad sack eyes and jowly cheeks) plays Paul
Giamatti, a fictionalized version of the actor, who's struggling with his part
in Uncle Vanya. Clearly Chekhov's play is resting heavy on him - and one day, he
sees an ad for a Soul Storage place which piques his curiosity.
So, with the ad's slogan "Is your soul weighing you down?" he heads to see if
he can find some relief.
What he actually finds is a surgery which can remove souls and hold them in
special units (or if they want to avoid tax, can be shipped to New Jersey) to
give their owners a new lease of life.
Initially skeptical, Giamatti undergoes the treatment - and things get more
complicated for him when a soul trafficking group from Russia ends up stealing
his soul to satiate a Mafioso style don's girlfriend. Giamatti ends up facing
the possibility of heading to St Petersburg or remaining soulless for the rest
of his life&.
Cold Souls is a strange, weird ride - its mournful tone belies some of the
comedy on display; sure, there are some existential overtones to the film
(Giamatti's not happy when he can't find his soul) and some downright funny
moments (his soul, when extracted, just looks like a chickpea)
Parts of the film have weird trancelike qualities - and some of it is
downright hallucinogenic as well. An excellent supporting cast - the majority of
whom I've never heard of until now - is good too.
But director Bartes (who also wrote the story) has managed to get the very
best out of Giamatti - put simply, he's brilliant in the role as he navigates
the levity of being soulless with the horrifying reality that he needs his soul
to be complete.
It's Giamatti's film and a tour de force performance which keeps Cold Souls
on just the right side of a wickedly original premise- if it had been trimmed a
little (its 100 minutes feel a little bloated towards the end), Cold Souls would
have been perfect.