If you needed any further proof that Paul Giamatti was one of the most underrated actors of his generation, then you might want to give the fascinating Cold Souls
a try. It’s far from a conventional movie, and by definition is set to be a divisive one. But it’s pumping with originality, and powered by another superb performance from its leading man.
That said, Giamatti does have the luxury of playing himself in Cold Souls. More to the point, he plays a Paul Giamatti who’s having trouble controlling his angst over an upcoming performance as Uncle Vanya. The solution he hatches? He seeks out a company whose job is to extract souls and trade them for a living. Thus, his soul is removed, with the plan being to put it back once the performance is done with. Which is a fine plan, until his soul ends up in someone else instead.
Cold Souls is a film not a million miles away from the feel of something like Being John Malkovich, albeit one capable of securing an identity of its own. It’s a bit of a bumpy road at times, and arguably the end product doesn’t fully utilise the potential of the concept. Yet it has plenty to recommend it still, most notably Giamatti’s outstanding central performance. At worst, Cold Souls is an intriguing and interesting film, that treads a different path to most. It’s also one that’s very worth checking out, too. --Jon Foster
In this metaphysical comedy in which souls can be extracted and traded as commodities, Paul Giamatti stars as himself, agonizing over his interpretation of Uncle Vanya. Paralyzed with anxiety, he stumbles upon a high-tech company promising to alleviate suffering by deep-freezing souls. He intends to reinstate his soul once he survives the performance but complications ensue when a soul-trafficking mule uses it for a talentless, soap-opera actress. Rendered soulless, he is left with no choice but to follow the trail back to St. Petersburg.