16 December 2009 | Matt_Layden
I Wanted To Like This Film More Than I Did.
Guido Contini, a famous Italian director, is struggling with his next big film. He has no script and no inspiration, but everyone is counting on him. He tries to juggle both his new film, his wife, his mistress, his producer and his muse. Oh yeah, he also talks to his dead mother.
Nine is an ambitious film, I'll give it that. Rob Marshall, the director of the Best Picture winner Chicago serves up a mix bag with Nine. The film feels like Marshall is trying to rekindle the magic he had with Chicago, he comes up short, specifically with the musical numbers. For everything that I liked about it, there were two things I didn't. Nine needs to be more focused and shorter for it to be a film I would recommend.
The film is about film-making, yet the way Marshall presents the film to us is in the style of a stage play. Everything from the set-pieces to lighting screams stage play. It was an interesting touch, but felt out of place because it dealt with the art of film-making so much. The musical numbers, all uninspiring and rather boring, even attest to this. With the exception of Fergie, who gives us the best song and dance number that uses sand in a creative way, all the other numbers are generic and rather 'not good'. When you have a Grammy winner singing a song and then have Kate Hudson sing one, there is a difference, and it is more noticeable than the filmmakers might have wanted.
Nine has a great cast, most of them are Oscar winners too. Daniel Day Lewis, with an amazing Italian accent, is the obvious stand out. He plays sexy and stressed all in one look. Penelope Cruz is the mistress, who has the sexiest scene of this movie, her career and this year. Her work in this film is pretty basic, the other lover who wants to be the one loved. With the exception of DDL, the only other actor that is given any kind of emotional depth is Marion Cotillard. She has to go through the realization that her husband is cheating on her and make the choice to stay or leave. Everyone else is pretty much there to fill up time and sing their one song. Judie Dench is the fashion designer and she plays a motherly figure, whereas Sophia Loren plays his actual mother, well his dead mother, but he still sees and talks to her. Fergie has her one scene in which she steals the show with her tune and then Nicole Kidman turns up at the end and makes you wince with her accent. Don't get me started on Kate Hudson.
The problem is that these are good actors, with just no material to work with. Daniel Day Lewis is great, but he's a hard character to connect with, he's sleeping around with a lot of women, it feels like half the cast. Emotional scenes don't play out as well as they should and the film drags itself to the finish line near the end. I found myself wanting it to end sooner and sooner, but it kept going.
On the plus side, the choreography is great and the cinematography really grabs you, even if it is a little misplace with it's stage feel. The film is well put together and the editing is well done. It weaves it's story in and out of timelines from Guido's life, during the musical numbers. The film isn't bad, but it didn't do anything for me either. Leaving a musical not tapping your toes or even remembering the tunes may be a bad sign. I liked it enough to give it a good rating, the cast and style are good enough for me to do so, but everything else makes me lean on the side of telling you to rent this. It's well made, but has no real heart and the film is a little on the long side, you may be checking your watch.