Paul Giamatti as Giamatti – Paul
Dina Korzun as Nina
Emily Watson as Claire
David Strathairn as Dr. Flintstein
Katheryn Winnick as Sveta
Lauren Ambrose as Stephanie
Boris Kievsky as Oleg
Oksana Lada as Sasha
Natalia Zvereva as Anastasia
Rebecca Brooksher as Yelena
Soul Extractor Featurette
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 101 Minutes
The following is the official description of the film:
“During rehearsals for Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, Paul Giamatti finds his soul growing so heavy under the weight of the material that his whole life begins to suffer. When he hears of a doctor who extracts and stores souls, he decides to undergo the procedure. Unburdened, Giamatti’s life becomes freewheeling, easygoing… and more intolerable than ever! He returns to the doctor demanding his old soul back, but a little snafu involving the Russian black market leads him on a harrowing journey that gives new meaning to the term “soul-searching!””
“Cold Souls” is rated PG-13 for nudity and brief strong language.
“Cold Souls” feels a lot like the sequel to Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Rather than erasing memories of people, they remove the soul of the client. While it’s very similar in tone and content, “Cold Souls” is still amusing on its own. This is in large part thanks to Paul Giamatti who plays a fictional version of himself. It’s funny to see him looking blank and uncaring after his soul is removed. He doesn’t even respond with any emotion when present with a fluffy cute bunny. Yet he comes alive when he rents the souls of other individuals. Playing a Russian poet in a play? Then rent the soul of a Russian poet. He’s also backed up by a strong supporting cast including Dina Korzun as Nina, Emily Watson as Claire, David Strathairn as Dr. Flintstein, and Katheryn Winnick as Sveta.
“Cold Souls” really explores the concept of ‘soul removal’ in depth. We see how Giamatti feels different after his soul is removed. We see the benefits, but also the drawbacks. We see how his wife suddenly notices the difference. We see how it changes the way he portrays a character in a play. We see how different people have different looking souls. We then see the concept taken a step father by learning about a Russian black market for souls. Dina Korzun as Nina is introduced to us as a ‘mule’ for transporting black market souls. It’s all thoroughly explored and takes the audiences into different tangents with the idea before the movie gets too worn out in any one particular area. I also like how despite this movie having a dark, melancholy tone, they manage to inject moments of humor into the story. Besides the aforementioned bunny scene, we also see Giamatti briefly lose his soul in an office and having to scramble to find it on a floor. We also see a Russian actress take his soul thinking it’s that of Al Pacino. There’s some really amusing stuff here. Overall it’s a strong script.
As fun as the movie and concept is, it does have a couple of problems. The first is that it ends on a rather obscure note. We just see a couple of characters wander off along a beach and we have no real idea what happens to them. For those looking for a less existential ending, this will be a disappointment. Also, a large part of the 101 minute running time consists of Paul Giamatti staring off in the distance with a moping look on his face. If those scenes were reduced, the movie would be 20 minutes shorter.
Overall, “Cold Souls” is a fun film and worth checking out by anyone who is a fan of Paul Giamatti, Woody Allen, or Michael Gondry.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any significant bonus features on this DVD. There’s a featurette showing the making of the Soul Extractor and a few deleted scenes.