Cold Souls

Paul is an actor who feels bogged down by his participation in a production of Chekov’s play, Vanya.

Writer:  Sophia Barthes
Director:  Sophia Barthes
Stars:  Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson and Dina Korzun
Runtime:  101 minutes
Popcorn Score: Medium Popcorn with Butter

Before I start the 2nd, and I believe final leg of my unintentional Paul Giamatti mini marathon, I thought I should take just a quick minute to reflect on the first half that began last night and consisted of the movie “Cold Souls”.  A movie that I was shocked not to recall even the slightest when I came across it in the Library the other day.  I am a very big Paul Giamati fan having really enjoyed his movies like Barneys Version, Sideways, The Ides of March, and most of his other work.  I was excited to see a movie of his that I was not familiar with.  Until, I checked out the IMDB score and saw the unfavorable 6.4 rating.

The movie is very interesting in the sense that it takes something that is truly impossible and plays it straight.  Unlike science fiction movies existing in different galaxy’s or in future times or with people with super powers, “Cold Souls” exists in the present day with everything seemingly the same, other than the fact that scientist/ doctors have learned how to extract and store, or trade our souls.  The characters in the movie slide into a large MRI looking machine put on a pair of thick sunglasses if they choose in order to “see inside the soul” and moments later they come out with a capsule filled with about 95% of their soul.  Some look like large rocks, others like shapeless blobs, Paul Giamatti’s looked like a chickpea.  His Dr says that although you would think they are light colors they are typically more browns or dark shades.  It is a very bizarre plot and idea in general that takes an ability of outside the box thinking for the audience to even get into what they are watching, perhaps that is part of the reason for the IMDB score.

Paul Giamatti plays a version of himself in the film, Emily Watson plays his wife Claire and they are living what I would imagine is a similar life to the real Paul Giamatti.  He is rehearsing for a Russian play and finding himself to be getting too wrapped up in his depressing character; he reads about the new science of Soul Storage in the New Yorker and in somewhat of a depressed state, decides to go for it.  Everything is OK until his soul gets stolen from the Russian black market that is the source of all souls in the US, and he is launched into the underground soul world in attempt to steal his back.

I would hesitate to call the movie a comedy, and like other dark comedies I believe it does itself a real disservice calling itself one.  However there are many parts where my girlfriend and I laughed out loud watching it.  Certain Giamatti “takes” and situations that he is in because of the odd plot force you to smirk, chuckle, or even break out in laughter at times during the movie.

The movie started out slow, I was confused for the first 15 minutes.  I think a fault of the script’s continuity, it was bouncing back between the Russian “soul mules” and Giamatti rehearsing his part.  But once I was on track and assumed the mindset needed for the movie, I really enjoyed “Cold Souls” by the time the credits rolled.  Not a must see, by any means, but a very enjoyable catch with a very imaginative and original plot.

Medium Popcorn with Butter.

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