wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)
Nine is about an Italian filmmaker (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) facing midlife crisis and about to launch an ambitious film without having had a single word written on paper or in his head. The undoing of this musical is its lack of engaging music and energy.Read more
Somewhere in the first half of Nine, a journalist sarcastically tells film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) that no one knew what his last film was about. As it turns out the sharp barb holds true for the film itself.
At a very basic level, Nine is a musical about an Italian director Guido Contini who has ‘run out of things to say’. Suffering from midlife crisis, Contini has not written a single word for his forthcoming film Italia for which he is about to start shooting in the next ten days. Through a series of songs and dances, we are introduced to the various women in his life and the depths of his frustration and are posed with the question of whether he will get over his block.
The hitch is not so much the simplistic plot -- that is a given in most musicals -- but rather the lack of engaging music and energy that undoes it.
Now Nine is a film that is adapted from an award-winning Broadway musical, which itself draws from Federico Fellini's film 8½. I haven’t watched the production or Fellini’s movie. But I do have some idea of what an entertaining film could be. And Nine is not really that film.
What Nine does however is it brings together some of the biggest Hollywood actresses across generations together. There is Sophia Loren who plays Contini’s mother and appears in his imagination from time to time; Marion Cotillard who plays Luisa his wife; Judi Dench who is his costume designer and confidant; Fergie who plays a prostitute; Penelope Cruz who is his mistress; Kate Hudson an American fashion journalist and Nicole Kidman, his muse whose onscreen appearance may not be longer than nine minutes.
Despite the presence of so many women or perhaps because of it, Nine tends to drift away in to particular direction. You know that these are the women who have touched Contini’s life in some defining way but it doesn’t necessarily come through.
Dench of course belts out a fascinating performance -- she even has a song picturised on her -- as does Cotillard. But the performances of these women and that of Daniel Day-Lewis do little to save the faltering and predictable film.
Nine comes from Rob Marshall who directed another musical, the immensely brilliant, Chicago. For some reason he is unable to repeat the magic in this one. Surely, Nine is no masterpiece and certainly not worth going bonkers about. If at all there are some breathtaking shots of Italy in the movie. But then again you could well find them on Google.
This review is by guest reviewer Sanjeev Kumar Singh. Sanjeev Kumar Singh watches films by day and sings songs in the night. During his spare time he tells everyone willing to listen how he could not have asked for a better name.
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