Soul 37 (2008) – By Joshua LeSuer

 Let’s try an exercise, shall we? Find a friend (readers nine and under, parental supervision, please!) Have them poke you in the back of the brain, while chanting, "Live! Live! Live!" in your ear, in increasingly shrill tones, till your mind is ringing with a tinnitus of carpe diem. That pretty much sums up the experience of "Soul 37".

"Soul 37" concerns a cubicle cog who awakes from his stupor one day to find his own heart squelching and quivering on his ink blotter. The fact that our heroic cog looks only vaguely mystified tells us, like a gong struck by an iron mallet, we’re in the presence of the almighty metaphor. Years of drudgery have sucked the soul out of our gray, little friend and his heart has started to moulder.

While I found the film about as obnoxious and stridently preachy as a Yoko Ono caterwaul, at least the visuals are pretty good, borrowing some of the more velvety hues from David Lynch’s palette and washing the frame with soft shadow. I also liked the CGI heart, which looks like a shriveled-up manta ray or the little pod creatures from "Existenz". It palpitates with a resounding gurgle, like the movie is taking place in the stomach of Monstro the Whale.

I’m not one for inspirational movies. I’d rather be gang-tackled on the streets by hemped-up hippies and tickled mercilessly or forced to take a turn in a flowery field at gunpoint.

I’m no Scrooge, but life is bittersweet, and the sweetness is meant to balance out the bitterness. Too much of either leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Now, if you’ll kindly excuse me, I think I’ll go rinse with some Bergman.