May 21, 2010

Cold Souls - 2009

Director: Sophie Barthes
Writer: Sophie Barthes
Starring: Paul Giammati, Emily Watson, David Strathairn

"Oh, god, no, I don't want my soul shipped to New Jersey, no." Paul (Giammati) is struggling with his role in Uncle Vanya, and turns to a soul storage facility headed by Dr. Flintstein (Strathairn) to unburden him. However, his newly soulless state wreaks havoc with his personal life, so he returns to the facility and gets a transplant soul from a Russian poet. Initially successful, his body rejects the new soul, but upon a third visit to the facility, he finds that his soul has been misplaced.

I'd like to be able to name more prominent female directors than I have fingers on one hand, and if Barthes becomes one, I think I'd be okay with that. While some critics said the film was too similar to Spike Jones's 1999 Being John Malkovich, I call that a positive. The only real criticism I have is that some scenes in the film use Russian (part of the plot involves the unregulated soul donations, etc from the motherland) that wasn't translated, leaving the viewer in the dark plotwise, and making the scenes seem like a waste of time until they intersect with Paul's life. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it, especially the distinct performances from Giamatti pre-, post-, and with the replacement soul. I don't think he's ever been considered a proper A-lister (universal name recognition), but he deserves to be.

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