There are many artistic works that are dedicated to examining the soul, and it’s always interesting because there’s no real solid definition of what a soul is. Sophie Barthes, with her very first feature film, takes a fresh look at what a soul might be with Cold Souls. This film is a breath of fresh air, giving viewers a humorous and interesting story about an artist that goes through the process of soul extraction. Paul Giamatti turns in another solid performance, and Barthes provides able direction and an intriguing story.
The plot of the film revolves around the fascinating concept of soul extraction and soul-swapping. We are placed in a world where this is possible, and the film tugs on our curiousity based on the concept alone. What is a soul? What happens when we rid ourselves of it? What is the purpose of having a soul? The film sparks these questions and flirts with some of the potential answers, making for a very healthy exercise of analyzing what makes “the self.”
At the center of it all is the performance of Paul Giamatti, playing himself, and he deliver the goods as usual. He’s invested in the idea and sells the concept, as his transition from a skeptical customer that’s curious to try the process to a convinced customer that wants his soul, whatever it may be, back feels genuine.
The main problem with this film is that it has so many ideas running at the same time, but no one idea is fully grown. The main concept of soul extraction is fascinating, but it feels like Barthes trys to cover all the details at once, when she should have refined only the best.
It may also feel as if this film was inspired by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich, but without the depth or weight of those films. Cold Souls doesn’t go the distance with it’s concept because it becomes bogged down by too many details and storylines about soul extraction.
Overall, the film provides an interesting concept with some solid direction, but it never really shakes off the feeling that it had the potential to be something better.
Being John Malkovich
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
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