COLD SOULS

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
DECEMBER 24, 2010

There is selling your soul to the devil, and then there is “Cold Souls.” Paul Giamatti takes on the daunting role of himself in the darkly comedic performance where there are fewer laughs than moans and groans. Giamatti takes part in a play, Uncle Vanya, but with the inability to get out of his head, he decides to try something drastic. Giamatti chooses to try “soul storage,” in which his soul is removed and stored, leaving just a tiny fraction of his soul intact.

Eventually, he test-drives a different soul and is shocked by the outcome, ultimately wanting his original soul returned, which turns out stolen. Giamatti struggles to recover his missing soul through the black market, eventually tracking it back to a rich man’s wife, who dreams of becoming a famous actress. Giamatti learns the hard way that perhaps he is best working with his soul.

The visuals in “Cold Souls” fit the film perfectly. With a chilling backdrop, the colors wash away any vibrancy from Giamatti’s comical demeanor throughout the film. The entire movie is ridiculous, but the characters do not treat it as such, outlining the darkness of the comedy with broad, bold lines. Even the little bits of the storyline involving Al Pacino’s soul and the “soul black market” create a world all its own.

“Cold Souls” gives off a brilliance that is not transparent from the first viewing. The film is visually appealing, along with Giamatti’s rare and effective performance, delivering his off-kilter version of “Punch Drunk Love.” Giamatti’s presence makes these indie films like “Cold Souls” the masterpieces that they are. Without him, the film would be soulless.

RELEASE DATE
August 7, 2009

DIRECTOR
Sophie Barthes

WRITTEN BY
Sophie Barthes

STUDIO
Samuel Goldwyn Films

PG-13
(for nudity and brief strong language)

COMEDY
DRAMA

FANTASY
SCI-FI
101 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Andrij Parekh

COMPOSER
Dickon Hinchliffe

EDITOR
Andrew Mondshein

CAST
Dan Carey
Elizabeth Giamatti
Paul Mezey
Andrij Parekh
Jeremy Kipp Walker

PRODUCED BY
Ori Marmur
Neal H. Moritz

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