Nine (2009)

nine_2009_poster
  • Time: 118 min
  • Genre: Drama | Musical | Romance
  • Director: Rob Marshall
  • Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson

Storyline:

Arrogant, self-centered movie director Guido Contini finds himself struggling to find meaning, purpose, and a script for his latest film endeavor. With only a week left before shooting begins, he desperately searches for answers and inspiration from his wife, his mistress, his muse, and his mother. As his chaotic profession steadily destroys his personal life, Guido must find a balance between creating art and succumbing to its obsessive demands.

One review

  • “Directing a movie is a very overrated job, we all know it. You just have to say yes or no.”

    When Rob Marshall revealed that he was going to direct Nine, a film adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name, based loosely on Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiography 8 ½ (1963), and starring a mouth-watering cast which includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Fergie and Sophia Loren, immediately there was a near-psychic understanding among observers of cinema that this could be the film to win Best Picture and land Marshall his first directing Oscar.

    However, things change very quickly in the frenzy that is Hollywood. Nine opened to mostly below-average reviews and a dismal record at the box office, never recouping its losses in its short-lived theatrical run in the US. Perhaps out of sympathy, the Academy decided to reward Marshall’s film with four Oscar nominations, three of which are considered “minor”. Is that enough consolation for Marshall?

    Nine is about Guido Contini (Day-Lewis), a famous but fictitious Italian filmmaker who just can’t seem to start on his next film because of distractions caused by his personal (read: romantic and sexual) relationships with a plethora of women. The film traces his whirlwind life as he tries to comprehend the complexities of love and hate in these relationships.

    It is apparent with the release of the hit musical Chicago (2002) seven years ago that Marshall might be unable to outdo himself if he were to pursue another project in the same genre. In Nine, the extravagant director indeed does not outdo himself, but he comes close to another artistic triumph. I wish to say this right now: Too many critics have put down this film, but I refuse to join the crowd.

    Nine is an excellent film in many ways. The most eye-catching of which has to be its neatly choreographed song-and-dance routines. Each routine is edited with considerable skill; the rhythmic movements and variety of camera angles employed to capture them in both its partiality and totality allow viewers to immerse themselves in the musicality of the sequence.

    Although the most captivating sequence belongs to the routine “Be Italian” which is impressively performed by Fergie, the most emotionally satisfying (read: best) sequence goes to Cotillard’s powerful, tearjerking rendition of “My Husband Makes Movies”.

    Cruz’s Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress is perhaps slightly undeserved; Cotillard should have received that accolade. In fact, further reading into the film’s narrative (if there is a legible one) reveals that it is Cotillard’s character, Luisa Contini, who represents the film’s emotional core. Marshall’s film is essentially an exploration of Luisa’s mental state and existential circumstance rather than Guido’s womanizing exploits and his lack of self-control.

    Despite the star-studded cast, Nine’s appeal to mainstream consumers appears to be far worse than expected. It is quite difficult to understand why. After all this is a well-made film of respectable quality. I believe the answer may lie in Guido’s character. To the unconcerned moviegoer (and there are many), film directors are faceless persons behind the camera. Who gives a damn about them, let alone how they live their lives?

    Admittedly, Marshall also bombards viewers with cinematic jargon and in the last shot we see Guido seated in the “director’s chair” on a crane which lifts him up into the air before he mutters “Action!”. Obviously, this is filmed in such a way that it conveys the message that “the director is king”. Mainstream audiences will care less. But I do not.

    GRADE: A- (8.5/10 or 4 stars)

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