Film Reviews


By • Dec 19th, 2009 •

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A shocking disappointment. A mess without one show-stopper song.

NINE is based on the 1982 musical “Nine” which took its inspiration from Federico Fellini’s 1963 B&W film 8 1/2. The musical was a Broadway sensation winning five Tonys, including Best Musical.

Why? I don’t have a clue.

I assume the film uses all the songs from the musical. There is not one show-stopper. In fact, the songs are terrible. Except for the first song sung by Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), every song is about Guido! Each song is a hymn to Guido. Guido is a very famous Italian director who, after a couple of flops, is preparing another film. The Italian media adores him, but he runs away from his press announcement.

Guido has no script yet. Sets are built, costumes are sewed. Production begins. But Guido has no idea what his new film should be about. He is mentally and physically exhausted and nagged by his sexually demanding, hysterical married mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz). His mope of a wife, Luisa (Marion Cotillard), finds him at a spa with Carla. Gracious Guido hides Carla away in a hostel!

Guido loves Luisa above all women, but we never see why. Were Luisa his muse, his Zelda, his Nora, or even his Yoko, I could understand. But Luisa is frigid, unhappy, and does not appear to inspire anything but guilt in him for still seeing his mistress. Apparently, Luisa did not understand who she was marrying.

Guido’s life has been formed by his Mamma (Sophia Loren) and his first fantasy woman, Saraghina (Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson). He has no men friends. His life is filled with women: A mature confidante, costumer Lilli (Judi Dench), and his frequent star, Claudia (Nicole Kidman). He is being pursued by a writer-on-assignment from American Vogue, Stephanie (Kate Hudson).

Each actress has a song. Luisa has two: The silly “My Husband Makes Movies” (try rhyming that!) and the angry “Take It All” (Luisa literally lets her hair down as an expression of her fury).

Fergie’s “Be Italian” is sensational and so is Kate Hudson’s “Cinema Italiano”. In fact, Hudson is a wonderful surprise. You will forgive her “My Best Friend’s Girl”.

The musical numbers by Sophia Loren, Judi Dench, and Nicole Kidman are horrible. Kidman just showed up for the paycheck. She might consider herself too famous to act anymore.

The choreography by director Marshall and John DeLuca is often embarrassing. In Day-Lewis’s opening number, he climbs monkey bars and takes a leap off a high bar. Another number has Guido – splayed out – being carried off by dancers. Why do choreographers always use this god-awful routine?

Cruz’s dance number, “A Call From the Vatican” takes inspiration from what is known as “the stripper’s crawl”. Cruz throws her legs open but keeps her top on.

Day-Lewis, whose reputation for living his character’s life 24/7 (one wonders if that applied here) is actually charming, flirty, sexy and likeable – until Guido starts crying and cringing over his loss of creativity. He actually sinks to his knees and buries his head in his hands!

Day-Lewis’s chemistry is apparent with only one of his co-stars – ethereal Sophia Loren.

It’s hard to sympathize with womanizing Guido, especially since his lack of commitment and enthusiasm means that hundreds of people have to be fired. Apparently he is too famous to be held to a contract.

All this talent is wasted on NINE.

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One Response »

  1. I agree. This movie is flopping at the theaters and it’s being pulled back to only major cities. Why? Because it’s pretentious art for the sake of art garbage. Chicago was brilliant. Why? Because aside from great music it had a premise that pulled in audiences. What does “Nine” have that pulls in audiences other than a list of “A” lists? Not much. Dance numbers that seem done before, uninspiring music, and not a hint of an interesting plot line. I for one am not surprised in the slightest that it’s showing so poorly. Then again what do I know. I think Twilight is the worst piece of crap ever made and it’s raking in the money, but then again the money of 12 year old girls is still green, but it’s not the making of classics. So no one should be surprised by Nine’s poor showing, but it may stand up over time. I just hope it doesn’t.

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