Sophie Barthes’ stunningly smart debut, “Cold Souls,” stars the always-impressive Paul Giamatti as the actor Paul Giamatti whose soul has become a burden during a production of “Uncle Vanya,” resulting in his inability to separate himself from the character. Anxious to alleviate the pain Paul seeks out a facility called Soul Storage—“conveniently located on Roosevelt Island” a soothing automated phone message explains—run by David Straithairn’s hilariously laidback Dr. Flintstein. While comparisons to Charlie Kaufman’s work, especially to “Being John Malkovich,” will inevitably be drawn (the meta lead roles, the soul storage warehouse in “New Jersey,” the gender-bending aspect of male souls taking up in female bodies and vice-versa), Barthes has distinguished herself from the Kaufman machine mainly through the help of her partner and cinematographer/producer Andrij Parekh. Parekh’s elegant lighting and fluid camerawork stand in stark contrast to the off-kilter hyperactive style of “Being John Malkovich”; “Cold Souls” is clearly not “A Spike Jonze Film.”
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