Saturday, February 20, 2010


Year: 2008
Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Judi Dench

In My Own Words

I went into this movie with the lowest of expectations. I always see it as a bad thing if a film has a huge Oscar buzz about it and then doesn’t deliver come nomination time. It’s never a good sign. However, I enjoyed “Nine” a lot more than what I thought I would. I love feeling this way, there is such a buzz coming out of a film you thought would be a complete fail and knowing you were wrong. In saying that, I can understand why it has been panned by other critics and neglected from much of the Oscar nominations. In saying this, I believe that the academy even got the nominations “Nine” did get wrong.

One thing I will say is that Rob Marshall must be a huge Federico Fellini. Obviously “Nine” is based on the Broadway show of the same name, but the Broadway show is then based on the 1963 Italian film “8 ½” . “8 ½” is not a musical so it does not contain the breaks in the story for the musical numbers, and the story is different. The majority of the characters have the same names and certain scenes are recreated to the finest detail, such as Saraghina’s little beach number. There are even certain scenes, such as Claudia at the fountain, which reminds me of another Fellini masterpiece, “La Dolce Vita”. I honestly think that films like “8 ½” and “La Dolce Vita” work better in the style that they were initially filmed in rather than try to be redone mixing both the stage show and the film. I did like the film, but there were parts of the film that I didn’t like, and Rob Marshall trying to mix “Chicago” and “8 ½” was the main reason I didn’t like it.

These are my own words and here is my review.

“Nine”, based on the Broadway play of the same name, can be described as an enjoyable mess. There are some amazing things about the film, yet there are some things that bring its buzz down. The unstoppable Daniel Day-Lewis plays Guido Contini, a film director who under pressure to write and direct a film in 10 days. It isn’t only the pressure of the film playing on his mental health, but also the relationships with the women in his life. His trials and tribulations with himself and his women are expressed through both the script and musical numbers. However, the two narrative forms collide in this film making the combination quite messy. The film could have been constructed in a way so that these two could have worked together to flow smoothly, but the way which director, Rob Marshall separates the script and the songs makes the film jerky and uneven. The jerkiness of the film makes the storyline seem weak. It is as though Marshall is trying to put what proved to be the winning formula of the musical numbers on the stage that was present in “Chicago” into “Nine”, as well as having the storyline carried off the stage. Unfortunately this is formula is not for this film.

In saying this, there are many good things about “Nine” that stop it from being a failure. Firstly, the scenery and visuals are stunning. The film is definitely a great tourist advertisement for Italy, even if we are no longer in the 1960’s when the film is set. The musical numbers are also outstanding and the songs are extremely catchy, especially “Take It All”, “Cinema Italiano” and “Be Italian”. The musical numbers, although disruptive to the storyline rather than enhancing it, are well choreographed and beautiful to watch.

The acting is also a stand out in this film. Daniel Day-Lewis is perfect as Guido and is perfectly cast. The star of the film is the consistently brilliant Marion Cotillard as Guido’s wife, Luisa. She gives a heartfelt performance in which the audience feels her emotion, especially in her number “My Husband Makes Movies”. She is extremely unlucky to have not received an Oscar nomination for her efforts in this film. There is great screen chemistry in between her and Day-Lewis, both in love and anger. Penelope Cruz is also a stand out as Guido’s mistress, Carla. She plays the role of the mistress well, being sexy as well as vulnerable and desperate for Guido’s affections. Dame Judi Dench is charming as per usual, and it is joyful to see her try her hand at a musical number throughout the film. Both Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson have almost unnecessary roles, but both provide great songs for the film soundtrack.

“Nine” is a great musical, but not one of the great stories of the year. There are some extremely fun moments throughout the film and the players are far from bad, but the weakness of the storyline lets its good points down.

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