Parents' Guide to

Cold Souls

By Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Fanciful tale is fun for grownups; won't appeal to kids.

Movie PG-13 2009 101 minutes
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The clever script and smooth direction by first-time writer/director Sophie Barthes keep this surreal comedy grounded in reality. So do the terrific performances, especially by Giamatti in a role that feels like it was tailor-made for his Everyman look and quirky personality. There's not a moment of tongue-in-cheek behavior or campy, "knowing" dialogue.

It's a stretch to imagine that souls can be removed, transplanted, or stored -- and an even bigger stretch to make the premise funny and last for nearly two hours. Barthes is mostly successful. She spends just enough time with the newly soulless Giamatti -- and then with Giamatti owning the interim soul of someone even more depressed than he was -- to keep the film from exhausting the narrative possibilities. The rest of the movie is spent in a farcical adventure in St. Petersburg, Russia, during which Giamatti learns a lesson that the audience knew from the beginning.

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