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Cold Souls Review Critics


Dave White Profile

News flash: actors happily sell their souls Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The more elaborate the plot becomes, the sillier it gets.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Giamatti is aptly cast, playing his own persona with awkward anxiety and suitably skewed humor.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The low-key satire would have benefited from more of a back story to Giamatti's character and a clearer sense of his relationship with his wife. But what we do get is compelling in the way of an indelible, dreamy short story.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Barthes takes her notion and runs with it, and Giamatti and Strathairn follow fearlessly.

    Read Full Review

  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Darkly funny, twisty-cool existential tragicomedy, loaded with smart notions and filmed like a surrealist dream.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Cold Souls reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 15+

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

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this indie comedy about the soul transplant business is imaginative, it probably won't have much appeal for kids or young teens. It's grown-up material, and the humor comes from taking our culture's incessant soul-searching and self-involvement to a new level of absurdity. Expect some swearing (mostly mild, though there's one "what the f--k?") and smoking. There are also two scenes with brief female nudity (models in a drawing class and a poster designed to elicit a humorous response).

  • Families can talk about what it means to "suspend your disbelief." How do the filmmakers make the idea of transplanting souls seem not only possible but ordinary? Did having Paul Giamatti go by his real name make it more believable?
  • What is the movie saying about "technology for technology's sake"? Can you think of any real-life technologies that seem as far-fetched as the soul-transplant business?
  • Why is the visual of a soul as a chickpea or garbanzo bean funny? Sincethe "soul" is usually considered to have enormous importance,do you think the fact that it was so tiny underlined the movie's ironic tone?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: The movie's main take-away is that it's more important to want what you have rather than to have what you want. That said, the folks behind the soul-transplant business (which represents any "cool" cutting-edge new technology) go about their work with little understanding of its potential impact and danger.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: The hero is portrayed as honest, loyal, and smart, though somewhat overly self-involved. One businessman is shown to be corrupt, while another is shown to be naive and corruptible. One soul-trafficking character evolves from an unconscious self-promoter to someone who sees the error of her ways and takes responsibility for her actions.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: A dog bares its teeth at the main character.

  • sex false3

    Sex: A Life Drawing class features nude female models in artistic poses; there's also a brief glance at a female nude poster. Mild cuddling between husband and wife in bed.

  • language false3

    Language: Intermittent cursing includes "for Christ's sake," "for God's sake," "schmuck," "hell," "crap," and one "what the f--k?"

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some characters smoke (particularly during scenes set in Russia). The main character also pours himself one stiff drink.