Cold Souls Sophie Barthes

Cold Souls Sophie Barthes
What sounds interesting on paper doesn't always translate to screen. Paul Giamatti stars as Paul Giamatti, an actor who's having a personal artistic crisis of faith with his interpretation of a stage play of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. A friend puts him on to an article in The New Yorker about a company that promises to alleviate spirits by removing the soul. Thinking that removing the burden of his boring soul will actually solve his problems, instead of creating more, Paul makes an appointment and presto, his soul's in a glass tube and apparently, it's a chickpea. It's only intended as a temporary solution to get him through the play, but a black market "soul-mule" steals his soul for a wealthy Russian soap opera actress and Paul must use borrowed souls to get through his home and professional life while trying to track down his actual soul. Sound a little confusing? It is. Sound like fun? It isn't. Giamatti's always a delight to watch, but his assorted scenery snacking lacks direction here. Cold Souls is at its best when Giamatti gets to let loose with purposefully horrible acting at rehearsals for the play. His home life with wife Claire, played by Emily Watson, has emotional nuance, but is undeveloped. Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) is used as little more than a human prop in her turn as a lab assistant, but David Strathairn is predictably given more to chew on as the head of soul-extraction. Cold Souls is a valid attempt at a dark, metaphysical espionage caper, but it feels too much like a vaguely realized and forcibly adopted child of Being John Malkovich. The "Deleted Scenes" are mostly as tiresome as the picture, though an extended scene of Giamatti goofing through rehearsal is good for a laugh. "The Soul Extractor," a series of still frames of the machine's design, with commentary, is as far as the features go. Unless the movie itself is the actual soul extractor and right now, the makers of this movie have tricked enough people into watching it to make a single falafel ball. (E1)