Let's deal with that whole premise first. It seems they tried to market COLD SOULS as a comedy and in this case it fails. Seriously fails. Some have tried to say it's science fiction. Uhhhh...if tossing somebody into what looks to be an industrial chicken cooker and swapping souls can be considered science fiction well bully! It worked, but in my books such malarky is not sci-fi! Then we have the school of thought who feel COLD SOULS not only is an existential examination of life, the "soul" and the whole why are we here bit and is nothing more than a poor mans BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND 0r even ADAPTATION. Yes, there are elements of each to be found in COLD SOULS but to compare them would be along the lines of saying DIRTY HARRY was a rip off of MACBETH. There SEEMS to be something intelectual going on here but as this is the feature directorial debut of Sophie Barthes and have no guage to figure what might be intentional or what may be projected by my own viewing experience. What I can say is I liked COLD SOULS despite the fact Giamatti star in it and I hate him! HATE HIM! More than than dude from CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM. Like Larry David I have nothing personal against Giamatti but both play characters I can liken to a mutated Woody Allen on a serious crack binge and it simply makes my skin crawl. That said, it's another fantastic performance from Giamatti but it is his straight faced delivery that makes it so hard to ascertain if this was meant to be a comedy or not. Doesn't matter, what does matter is the flick looks great, has an interesting pace, shows us some Russian actresses we rarely see over here (Dina Korzun, Natalia Zvereva), gives us some itneresting work from David Straithairn, Emily Watson and Lauren Ambrose and it MAKES US THINK. Perfect for a date at the rep cin with some strong coffee and even stronger cigarettes later. I can hardly wait to see what Barthes gives us next.