07 September 2009

Cold Souls

Directed and written by Sophie Barthes

101 mins 2009

Paul Giamatti plays Paul Giamatti

Dina Korzun plays Nina

Emily Watson plays Claire Giamatti

Katherine Winnick plays Sveta

Anna Dukova plays Olga

Country of finance: USA/France

Nationality of director: French

Location of story: New York, St Petersburg

Filming location: New York, St Petersburg.

SYNOPSIS

Paul, paralyzed by anxiety about playing the lead in Uncle Vanya on Broadway, reads in the New Yorker about a new service Soul Storage which removes your soul and preserves it until you want it back. He does this and becomes too light-hearted. So he rents the soul of a Russian poet, which enables him to get the performance just right. In St Petersburg, where souls are bought and sold rather than stored for a fee, the boss’s wife, Sveta, a soap-opera actress, wants the soul of an American actor. She gives a list of 12 names of famous actors. Her husband asks why no actresses on the list? Nina, the mule who transports souls between St Petersburg and New York inside her body, steals the only actor soul that the New York Office has. She tells Sveta that it is Al Pacino’s soul. Paul wants his soul back but is not to be found. He tracks down Nina, and then goes with her to St Petersburg. He finds out that his rented soul is that of Olga, a factory worker, and that unable to get her soul back, she has committed suicide. Nina and Paul drug Sveta so that they can extract Paul’s soul from her. They do so. It has become dried up from her soap-opera performances. They both return to New York where the Soul Storage company has been taken over by a hedge fund.

CURIOSITIES

Both Sveta and Paul acquire opposite-gender souls. In neither case does this affect their self-identity, their mannerisms or their attitude.

Olga dies without her soul. This is opposite to the legends in The Golden Bough where external soul storage is used to avoid death.

Why is it, in western movies, that it is always winter in Russia?

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