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Cold Souls

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for nudity and brief strong language.
not reviewed
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy, Drama
1 hr. 41 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 7, 2009 (limited)
DVD: February 2, 2010
Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Relevant Issues
Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company

ANXIETY, worry and fear—What does the Bible say? Answer

Featuring: Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson, David Strathairn, Dina Korzun, Katheryn Winnick, Lauren Ambrose, Boris Kievsky, Oksana Lada, Natalia Zvereva, Rebecca Brooksher, Yevgeniy Dekhtyar, Floanne Ankah, Fabrizia Dal Farra, Polina Gorokhovskaya, Michael Aronov, Marie-Pierre Beausejour, Kevin Cannon, Erin Cronican, Alexandra Donhoeffner, John Farrer, Laura Heisler, Ted Koch, Gregory Korostishevsky, Eliezer Meyer, Armand Schultz, Stella Stark, Wendy Rich Stetson, Michael Tucker, Stanley Krajewski, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Sophie Barthes
Producer: Journeyman Pictures, Memento Films Production, Touchy Feely Films, arte France Cinéma, Daniel Carey, Elizabeth Giamatti, John Hynansky, Alexandre Mallet-Guy, D.J. Martin, Paul S. Mezey, Andrij Parekh, James Shifren, Jeremy Kipp Walker
Distributor: The Samuel Goldwyn Company

“A soul searching comedy.”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “An exploration of a man in search of his soul.

In response to shiny, bigger, better American consumerism comes ‘Cold Souls,’ a metaphysical tragicomedy in which souls can be extracted and traded as commodities. Balancing on a tightrope between deadpan humor and pathos, and between reality and fantasy, the film presents Paul Giamatti as himself, agonizing over his interpretation of Uncle Vanya.

Paralyzed with anxiety, he stumbles upon a solution via a New Yorker article about a high-tech company promising to alleviate suffering by deep-freezing souls. Giamatti enlists their services, intending to reinstate his soul once he survives the performance. Complications ensue when a mysterious, soul-trafficking ‘mule,’ borrows Giamatti’s stored soul for an ambitious, but unfortunately talentless, Russian soap-opera actress.

Rendered soulless, Paul is left with no choice but to follow the trail back to St. Petersburg. Funny, charming and wildly imaginative, the film explores the profound moods and inner struggles of a man in search of his essence.”

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See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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Movie Critics
…I enjoy movies like this, which play with the logical consequences of an idea. Barthes takes her notion and runs with it, and Giamatti and Strathairn follow fearlessly. …[3/4]
—Roger Ebert, Chicao Sun-Times
…“Cold Souls” turns into a delicious fable of international metaphysical espionage. Arriving at a moment when smart, pointed humor in movies is in short supply, “Cold Souls” could never be described as social realist. It is simply flat-out funny.
—Stephen Holden, The New York Times
…it’s a humorous take on the neurotic’s dilemma. Giamatti stammers and futzes and self-loathes with the best of ‘em, and his endearing persona and droopy-dog face can move the film along even when the narrative can’t.
—San Francisco Chronicle
…The low-key satire would have benefited from more of a back story to Giamatti’s character and a clearer sense of his relationship with his wife. But what we do get is compelling in the way of an indelible, dreamy short story.
—Claudia Puig, USA Today
…While “Cold Souls” doesn’t answer any of the questions it raises, it does provide a thought-provoking narrative framework from which to begin. …
—Alissa Wilkinson, Christianity Today
A dark-comedy with a piquant metaphysical bite… This smartly crafted feature debut appealingly capitalizes on its star’s well-worn persona. …
—Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter
Comments from non-viewers
Neutral—Right up front I’ll admit I did not finish “Cold Souls”. I like Paul Giamatti and the story was intriguing, but I didn’t feel the film lived up to its idea. Paul plays himself, and, as ever, he is a great actor. The other actors do just fine, but are rather blah. This film is a “dark-comedy,” but I didn’t get any humor from it. Jim Carrey had dark humor in “Cable Guy,” and I laughed at that, but “Cold Souls” just isn’t funny or very interesting. The highlight of the film—Emily Watson is a beautiful woman. Just don’t waste your time, this film has a great premise, but it just can’t reach its own standard.
—Benjamin Badger, age 18 (USA)