Review of the film – Cold Souls

19 08 2009

Is this the Best Actor???

Paul Giamatti is one of those actors that you can’t really explain why you love him.  He’s not that appealing to look at and yet he is amazingly interesting.  He doesn’t have the most commanding voice but we perk up when he is talking.  Paul Giamatti is a mystery.  Paul Giamatti also happens to be one of the finest actors.   He’s only been nominated for one Oscar (Cinderella Man, really are the Oscar’s serious?).  Yet his roles in Sideways, American Splendor and HBO’s John Adams have given Paul a slew of other nominations and awards.  You might be asking Gadi, Is it Paul’s birthday or something?  Nope.  Just wanted to talk about the main reason why you should take some time to see his newest film – Cold Souls.

Writer/Director Sophia Barthes first full length film is, according to the tag line, a soul searching comedy.  And yes it lives up to that tag line.  The plot is simple – Paul Giamatti is feeling weird about a production of Chekov’s play, Vanya, he is preparing to open and he starts to question himself.  He is directed to the New Yorker Magazine and an intriguing article about Soul Extraction.  Yeah, Soul Extraction!!  We’re also introduced to the co-lead in the film “Nina” (played wonderfully by Russian actress Dina Korzun).  Nina works for a Russian Underground Soul extraction company run by a filthy rich Russian tycoon.

Paul meets and is convinced to extract his soul by Dr. Flintstein (Academy Award Nominee David Strathairn).  Along the way the “soul” is lost and hilarious antics lead us from New York to St. Petersburg, Russia and back.  The film does start out a bit disjointed but does a masterful job keeping us involved until we start to piece together who these two people are (Paul and Nina).  I found my self laughing a lot more then I figured I would, after the opening scene.  Though Sophia’s script does a great job of mixing in the humor with an underlying “darkness” to the film.  Not to give away too much – but when the American Government takes over the operation and puts “our souls in the hands of a hedge fund” you can tell Sophia’s joke is so much more deeper in thought. 

This film stylistically reminded me a lot of Being John Malcovich (99′) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (04′), but funnier.

David Strathairn as Dr. Flintstein and his assistant Stephanie, played by Lauren Ambrose of Six Feet Under fame, really ad alot to the film and the humor. 

It was a Grand Jury Prize Nominee at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and deserves an hour and forty minutes of your time.

Grade – B+ – a bit slow at times and may start to confuse with the Russian Suicide plot line.   Overall though this is one of the better films of the year and Paul Giamatti gives yet another reason that the Oscars are retarded (did they see Sideways?).

Enjoy the Trailer:

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