Cold Souls

COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 41min

STARRING: Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn, Dina Korzun

The essence of a man: from left, Strathairn and Giamatti

If your soul became a burden, would you consider extracting and storing it? For Paul Giamatti, playing a gloomy incarnation of himself, the storage option starts to look attractive when he becomes creatively exhausted while in rehearsal for a New York production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. After his soul — which disconcertingly resembles a chickpea — has been extracted by a suave medic (Strathairn as Dr Flintstein), Paul initially feels lighter; before long, however, he realises that a soulless life is a life half-lived. The solution: a temporary soul transfer courtesy of a Russian trafficking outfit; Korzun is weary mule Nina, who joins forces with Paul in a peculiar retrieval operation.


Yes, it’s strange. And it’s about to get stranger when Paul’s stored soul winds up in the body of a sultry Russian soap opera actress (Katheryn Winnick). That this fanciful premise from film-maker Sophie Barthes yields such an introspective and — flashes of deadpan madness aside — borderline melancholy result is mostly the work of Giamatti. His angst-laden dismay grows heavier with every unreal scene.