'Cold Souls' is nothing if not odd. It's also quirky, interesting and, at times, thought-provoking, but alas odd is what will stick with you after you've seen this movie.

Paul Giamatti stars as himself here. He is frustrated as an actor and can't find anything to draw from when it comes to his latest role as the lead in 'Uncle Vanya'. His director isn't pleased, his co-stars are throwing him funny looks and he's getting more and more down on himself with every rehearsal.

But his agent just might have the answer. He's read something in the New Yorker about soul storage, which is basically the safe-keeping of one's soul after it has been painlessly extracted using a scary-looking machine.

Curious, and still more than a little sceptical, Giamatti decides to check out the soul clinic, figuring that unburdening himself of his soul will allow him to get in the zone for his latest production. But instead it leaves him feeling empty, so it's time for Plan B. He heads back to the clinic in the hope of renting out a soul, selecting that of a Russian poet. It works a treat. But life is never that simple.

The new soul is too much for him to cope with and he wants his old soul back. That would be fine if a Russian soul-mule named Nina (Korzun) hadn't already illegally acquired his chick-pea-sized soul for use in a struggling soap actress.

Here's where the comic touches creep in. Said soap actress believes that she is now the proud owner of Al Pacino's soul. The aforementioned Mr Giamatti didn't even feature on her very long soul wish-list, which makes it all the more problematic when he decides that he must track down his stolen soul and retrieve it.

On paper it sounds like this has the makings of a quirky little movie, with enough obscurity to cause hilarity, but the execution of 'Cold Souls' is lacking. You have to dig a little deep to find the humour as the off-the-wall nature of the plot isn't played up enough. Giamatti is engaging enough as the lead, ably supported by Emily Watson, in the role of his baffled wife Claire, and Dina Korzun, as the disillusioned soul-mule. But unfortunately 'Cold Souls' is most noteworthy as a missed opportunity. The potential was there, but it just never developed into something more than just odd.

Linda McGee