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An actor named Paul Giamatti struggles with his performance as Uncle Vanya in a production of Checkov's play. As a possible cure to his internal struggles, his character ends up at a company specializing in the extraction and storage of a person's soul.
I won't say any more about the plot; there is a certain joy of discovery in "Cold Souls." Elements borrow from "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Being John Malkovich;" the film had a very Charlie Kaufman feel to it, but slightly more serious in tone and subtle in its humor. Also, as a fan of Mr. Giamatti's work, it was interesting to see allusions to his other films (the white room sequence recalled something similar in "Amercian Splendor").
In terms of the DVD, there are few extra features. Deleted scenes, a 5-minute short on the fabrication of the Soul Extractor, and trailers for other films. The absence of a commentary is a disappointment. I'm hoping that a Blu-Ray version includes more, and possibly I was watching an inferior "Netflix-only" version of the DVD.
While the premise of the story was novel and certainly held out some promise for a solid comedy, most of the movie was just plain dark, depressing and surreal. Much of it is set in Russia, which is depressing enough by itself. The themes are dark. The suicide of a marginal character is dark. The use of lighting is, well, dark. Yes, there are some places where it works and evokes some laughs, but the rest of the movie just doesn't work -- unless you have an extremely dry, somewhat twisted sense of humor. To his credit, Giamatti's usual stellar performance was the one bright spot. Not recommended for most viewers.
In preparing to perform a character, Paul decides he needs to unburden himself from his soul. He finds a clinic that specializes in just that. Unfortunately, this clinic also does underground soul "adoptions" with an unregulated Russian company. The Russian mule winds up stealing Paul's locked away soul and implanting it in a Russian soap-opera actress. By this time, Paul has realized that he cannot be himself without his soul and the search ensues.
There are plenty of laughs. There are a few dark moments, and I was disappointed that the soul of "Olga" is never detailed more thoroughly. It was an entertaining film. I was looking forward to how all of the characters were going to finally tie in together, but I just don't think they knew how to end it. It pretty much leaves you to your own imagination. Some people don't like movies that end that way, but I didn't mind.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ingmar Bergman meets Woody Allen in this strange movie. I loved the premise. It made me literally laugh out loud three times.Published 15 days ago by Karen Goldstein
This is a metaphysical comedy. To me it is a perfect film. Mr. Paul Giamatti may be the greatest living actor we have now. I cannot give away much so quite hard to describe. Read morePublished 3 months ago by @PersephoneAbove
This was a beautiful film. I think Paul was great for the role. It did have a few hilarious moments. It will make you think about your soul and your life. Loved it.Published 14 months ago by Debra L. Showalter
A dark metaphysical satire with original writing, fresh characters and terrific plot. Paul Giamatti is great as well... Paul Giamati. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Mark Vandergaard