Saturday, June 6, 2009

What Does Your Soul Look Like?

COLD SOULS [***]
(Sophie Barthes, US, 97 mins.)


In debut director Sophie Barthes' believably surreal world, lovingly shot by Andrij Parekh, human beings can live without their souls--but it isn't much of a way to live.

Last seen duking it out with Tom Wilkinson in Duplicity, Paul Giamatti plays a look-
ing-glass version of himself, an award-winning actor top-lining Chekhov's Uncle Van-
ya
. When the strain becomes too much to bear, he pays a visit to Soul Storage, where Dr. Flintstein (David Strathairn) offers to store his soul during the run of the play. After Flintstein's assistant (Lauren Ambrose) extracts it, the lighter Paul can
no longer handle Vanya's heaviness, so he tries on the soul of a Russian poet.



It's an improvement, but Giamatti would rather have his own chickpea-sized soul back. Unfortunately, it's gone missing. Flintstein's associate, Nina (Dina Korzun, 40 Shades of Blue), a Russian mule, has borrowed it on her boss's orders, where it re-
sides in the body of his actress wife, so Giamatti enlists Nina's help to get it back.

His sad and hilarious journey from well-heeled Manhattan to the St. Peters-
berg underworld occasionally recalls Charlie Kaufman's existential comedies,
except the French-born filmmaker, who has cited Carl Jung and Woody Allen
as inspirations, conjures up her own unique universe, where European litera-
ture and philosophy rub shoulders with American ingenuity and impatience.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Cold Souls plays the Harvard Exit on 6/8 at 7pm and on
6/10 at 4:30pm. Director and actor in attendance.



Endnote: Edited and revised from my Amazon review. Title from
a track by DJ Shadow. Images from Row Three and The LA Weekly.

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