Paul used to write books, but since his wife had died five years ago he can only write funeral speeches. His life takes a bizarre turn, when Emma approaches him to write the speech for the funeral of her husband, who had been deceased for some time, but had never been properly buried. After a while Paul feels an attraction to Emma, but things get complicated, when the birthday wish of Emma's little son comes true and Nathaniel, her husband, comes back from the dead.
PAPER SOULS is a strange film, its premise is stuck somewhere between THE GHOST and DONA FLOR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS. It is a perfect example when originality works against being sensible. The supernatural part kicks in when the first third of the movie is over and there's nothing in the beginning that have prepared you for the ghost story. The feeling of the irrelevance of the "ghost" subplot what not left me until the final credits.
Dealing with the problem of one's loss in the most lighthearted way possible, PAPER SOULS tries to define its genre, and the films incompletion is obvious in every scene. Using a few writing cliches to manipulate the viewer, the film is too preoccupied with being original instead of telling a good story. Julie Gayet as Emma has usually a great screen presence, but here is wooden and unenthusiastic, as if she recognised the imperfections of the project she got involved with. The best acting here comes from Pierre Richard, in the role of Paul's neighbour Victor. The veteran comedian shows in every frame that he still got it, and nailed a few genuinely sentimental moments.
PAPER SOULS is an example of the film, where an interesting idea was underdeveloped and turned into something very ordinary. While having a major identity crisis, the movie is never boring, but that alone is not good enough.