First Look: Paul Giamatti in Sophie Barthes' Cold Souls
by Alex Billington
December 26, 2008
Considering it's a quiet Christmas weekend and also that the Sundance Film Festival is only 20 days away, we've got yet another Sundance related debut this morning. We were sent the first batch of photos from Cold Souls, a dark comedy starring Paul Giamatti that will be premiering at Sundance. In the film, Giamatti (ironically) plays himself, an actor that during an existential crisis decides to explore "soul extraction" as a relief from the burdens of daily life. I thought the concept for this already sounded great, but looking at these photos I'm now convinced to make sure I catch this as soon as possible.
Sundance programmer Caroline Libresco says of Cold Souls: "Sophie Barthes’s debut feature is strikingly original, not only for its haunting concept but for its poetic execution. Inspired production design and lyrical cinematography create a melancholic, heightened world. Perfectly cast, Giamatti and a gifted ensemble maneuver seamlessly through shifting ontological landscapes without ever betraying the surrealism. With this dazzling accomplishment, Barthes establishes herself as an auteur to reckon with."
This reminds me a lot of Pretty Bird, an indie film that premiered at Sundance last year that also starred Paul Giamatti. It was another dark comedy about an engineer who designs a working rocket-powered jetpack. Although I liked the film quite a bit, it received a lukewarm response and didn't end up getting picked by anyone. It's currently sitting in distribution limbo, which is sad because it deserves better.
Cold Souls is both written and directed by up-and-coming filmmaker Sophie Barthes, of only two shorts previously titled Zimove vesilya and Happiness. The film will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January where it will be looking for a distributor. Expect to hear more about Cold Souls in 2009.