Being Giamatti


The Sundance guide, where Cold Souls made its world premiere, describes the Paul Giamatti film as a "metaphysical tragicomedy." That in itself might be enough to send you running for the doors, and the added fact that Giamatti plays himself in the film might not help bring you back. Still, some people like metaphysical tragicomedies about famous actors playing themselves, and for them, something from anyone besides Charlie Kaufman -- in this case, writer/director Sophie Barthes -- might be a refreshing glass of mindfuckade.

As for the trailer: We get a revealing overview of the story, in which Giamatti visits a service he reads about in The New Yorker, and proceeds to have his esprit wiped out by a giant, soul-sucking MRI machine. He then sets upon a Russian adventure to retrieve his lost soul on the Black Market. Lots of Giamattian angst, brow-furrows and light misery. Tortured monologues about physical ailments? Check. Mysterious metaphysical technician in cable-knit cardigan? Check. Long-suffering, dowdy female foil? Check, played by Emily Watson -- fresh off her meta tour of duty in 'Doche.

But there are things we haven't seen before, too: White voids with naked toddlers, Russian hats with furry balls, invocations of Al Pacino. Might this actually be not entirely pretentious and insufferable?

The Verdict: For people who find Shouts & Murmurs funny.