Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn
Directed by Sophie Barthes
You'll laugh till it hurts at Cold Souls, a comedy of shocking gravity starring Paul Giamatti as a neurotic actor named Paul Giamatti. He is rehearsing Uncle Vanya and feeling the weight of Chekhov's Russian sorrow. Then he sees an ad in The New Yorker: Visit Dr. Flintstein (a serenely crazed David Strathairn), and your soul can be extracted and held in storage. Though humiliated that his soul is pea-size, Giamatti becomes the merriest Vanya ever and a horrible actor. Soon he's buying a new soul from a Russian mule (Dina Korzun). Nodding to Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine), writer-director Sophie Barthes finds her own way of showing how suffering defines our humanity. The film is superbly shot by Andrij Parekh and edited by Andrew Mondshein, but it's the hilarious and heartbreaking Giamatti who provides it with, well, soul.