Civilization and its discontents. Paul, an actor preparing for "Uncle Vanya" on Broadway, is mired in ennui. His agent tells him about an office where he can put his soul in storage. He does so then discovers that being soulless helps neither his acting nor his marriage; he returns to the office and rents, for two weeks, the soul of a Russian poet. His acting improves, but his wife finds him different, he sees bits of the borrowed soul's life, and he's now deep in sorrow. He wants his own soul back, but there are complications: it's in St. Petersburg. With the help of Nina, a Russian who transports souls to the U.S., he determines to get it back. Who has he become? Written by
The film was inspired by a dream Sophie Barthes had in which Woody Allen discovers that his soul looks just like a chickpea. Barthes wrote the first draft with Allen in mind for the lead role. See more »
Dmitri tells the actress not to worry that Paul's soul looks like and is the size of a chickpea, telling her that Al Pacino won three Oscars. Al Pacino has actually only won one Oscar (Best Actor in 1992, Scent of a Woman). See more »
Well, when you have a tumour, you get rid of it. A twisted soul is like a tumour. It's better to get rid of it.
Giamatti - Paul:
I don't think that my soul is twisted. Doctor.
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"Cold Souls" begins with possibly the best premise I have seen on film. It is fitting that screenwriter Sophie Barthes was nominated for Best First Screenplay from the Independent Spirit Awards. Paul Giamatti plays Paul Giamatti, an actor struggling with the weight of Checkov. Uncle Vanya is weighing down his soul. This is a problem afflicting most New Yorkers, but there is now a solution. A company can extract your soul and keep it in storage for you. Brilliant.
The opening scenes offer some insightful humour and intelligent wit, and offers a fair number of laughs for everybody who immediately saw the comedy in the premise. David Strathairn and Giamatti have great interactions and are very funny, both together and on their own.
The rest of movie, though, plays out like a dark mystery or thriller which doesn't really fit the wonderful comedic start. The main obstacle for our hero, and the thriller plot are significantly darker and melodramatic than I was expecting. Although it is titled "Cold Souls", I was hoping for less cold and more soul-fulfilling insightful humour.
It is a dark comedy, so probably a must-see for fans of the genre. However, I think one of the problems with coming up with such an inventive idea, is viewers will likely form their own story line, so if it doesn't play out as you would have written it, it will seem disappointing and disjointed as it did for me. But that being said, the interest and intrigue behind this story would be too much to pass this up.
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