Writer-director Sophie Barthes' debut feature, COLD SOULS, feel like a rip-off of a Charlie Kauffman or Spike Jones film but is not as well-made. It has a clever concept that has not been richly mined. The result is that the movie feels too long and too thin: a surreal Monty Python sketch spun out of control.
The clever concept is that people encumbered with troubled souls can have them extracted, bottled and stored at a facility in New Jersey. Having done so, they can continue about their business lighter and without ennui. Of course, wherever there's consumer demand there's a black market. In this case, Russians traffic extracted souls for rich Americans to hire out. Who would you like to be today? A Russan poet, perhaps?
Paul Giamatti plays "Paul Giamatti" - he's getting down playing Vanya so he gets his soul extracted. But then he's too lightweight to play tragedy, and he can't connect with his wife, so he hires in a Russian soul. And so forth.
The whole thing is utterly derivative. Medical procedures to solve emotional distress were done in ETERNAL SUNSHINE. An actor playing himself has been done many times, but most wittily in BEING JOHN MALKOVICH. Compared to these films, COLD SOULS is poor fare indeed.
COLD SOULS played Sundance and London 2009 and was released earlier this yaer in the US. It opens in the UK on November 13th.