DVD review: Cold Souls (2009)

28 Jun

COLD SOULS is constructed around a single original premise: that it’s actually possible to remove the soul from your body and keep it in storage until a later date. With your body ‘de-souled’ you’re no longer burdened by pesky emotions, you feel lighter and you think more rationally. Of course, like any medical procedure there are certain side effects.

Paul Giamatti (playing himself) is struggling with the titular character in a production of Uncle Vanya and when he reads an article about a place dealing in ‘soul storage’ he investigates whether this is the answer to his troubles. Once his soul has been removed he’s surprised to discover it resembles a small chickpea. What should have come as no surprise however, is that being soulless isn’t exactly a great way to live. He picks a new soul out of a catalogue, one that used to belong to a Russian poet and though it greatly helps his performance, once the play wraps he decides to have his original put back in. Unfortunately, his chickpea-soul has been stolen.

Director Sophie Barthes’ debut has a lot going for it: great premise, beautifully shot and a fantastic performance by Paul Giamatti. It’s also often quite funny, particularly early on when we’re still adjusting to such a service existing (Paul looks up the clinic under ‘Soul Storage’ in the Yellow Pages). Despite all these absurdities though, it leans more towards melancholic drama, which is a shame because deep within this film is the kernel of a much better existential comedy.

Well, maybe not a kernel… more of a chickpea.

GJB

DVD Extras: Trailers, Soul Extractor concept sketches.

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