Ann saw Cold Souls for the first time last night and loved it. This was my second viewing, and it held up for me. Basically, the movie has Paul Giamatti, playing himself. Giamatti’s hung up on playing a role in a Chekov play, and after seeing an advert for Soul Storage in the New Yorker decides that the answer might be to divest himself of his soul. As a result he comes into contact with a Russian mule, played brilliantly by Dina Korzun, who is carrying souls into the U.S. for resale.
What follows is both serious and absurdist humor, and most definitely SF-Fantasy. The plot becomes more complicated, the characters gain nuance and depth. There are plenty of laughs in Cold Souls, but there is also plenty to think about, and plenty that will move you. In its thematic resonance and devotion to its characters it’s much more like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind than the relatively bloodless Being John Malvokich.
Cold Souls is an indie film, but it’s not a small film. The way the first-time director and writer Sophie Barthes extrapolates the idea of storing and harvesting souls, hardwires it to real-world parallels like organ harvesting, and gives the apparatus involved with extraction the sleekness of Apple design is truly impressive. The movie fails if you don’t buy into the premise, no matter how interesting the situations and characters. But Barthes’ approach is flawless, in my opinion–and a great example of how you make a viewer (or reader) suspend disbelief.
Frankly, I thought this was the best SF movie of the year, not the awful Avatar or the good but ultimately disappointing District 9. So, if you want an antidote to the three hours of mindnumbing dumbness, recycled Cameron plots, and faintly veiled Dances-with-Wolves condescending, makes-no-sense bullshit that is Avatar, try Cold Souls.
Also, if you’re a facebook friend note that I’ll be facebooking about the Oscars tonight while they’re going on. Probably a couple of anchor status messages and then commenting in the thread. Hope you’ll join me–from the red carpet on.