Thursday, 14 January 2010

Cold Souls: Movie Review

Cold Souls: Movie Review

Rating: 7/10
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.

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