Writer/director Sophie Barthes admits that the idea for Cold Souls came to her in a dream -- which is ironic because there were times that I found myself on the verge of falling asleep while watching this movie. Not that she made an awful film. It's actually quite a unique concept -- but it moves a little too slowly and risks leaving you a bit cold.
Barthes claims that her dream starred Woody Allen -- which is not too far-fetched because she just watched him in Sleeper. But something tells me she probably also watched Being John Malkovich the same night. That is the most likely explanation for why here, Paul Giamatti stars as a fictionalized version of himself -- an overwhelmed actor who is basically paralyzed by anxiety.
David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) co-stars as a doctor who manages a facility that may have a solution for him: to temporarily extract and deep freeze the soul that is weighing him down. Unfortunately, complications ensue when his soul gets lost in an Russian trafficking scheme which has taken it to St. Petersburg. The film then follows Giamatti desperately trying to find his soul -- that's right, some soul searching.
I was bummed that we saw so little of supporting players Lauren Ambrose (HBO's Six Feet Under) and Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves) in the film. Barthes should have found a way to give both these great actresses more screen time. But Dina Korzun is intriguing in a meatier role as the soul-trafficking "mule." And there is no denying that Giamatti (Sideways) is an accomplished actor. He is so good, that his facial expressions alone will make you laugh. Billed as a comedy, I just wish the script was more playful and had more laughs. Maybe that would have kept me more attentive and focused on the unique concept. I ordinarily would never recommend even legal drugs -- but if you still want to see this movie, load up on caffeine first. [Rated PG-13; opens wider today]
- In her own words, learn more about Barthes' dream by clicking on the poster image above.
- Is your soul weighing you down? Check out details on the fictional Soul Storage Company here.
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- Click here for an alphabetical archive of all movie reviews - including last week's big openings, District 9 and The Time Traveler's Wife.