Directed by: Rob Marshall
Premise: A musical remake of the film 8½. An obsessive Italian filmmaker (Daniel Day-Lewis) struggles to begin his next mega-production but is derailed by writer’s block and his own self-destructive tendencies.
What Works: The cinematography and editing of Nine are very good as the film combines the stage and the cinema, playing to the strengths of both. The film has a lot of humor and wit, which helps it considerably, and Daniel Day-Lewis carries the film. His Italian accent is impressive, especially as he maintains it while singing. The musical numbers have a lot of energy and the editing of these scenes cross cuts very effectively between musical and non-musical scenes.
What Doesn’t: It is never clear exactly what Nine is about. There are several themes running throughout the film from the pressures of filmmaking and the objectification of women in cinema to the struggle between art and commerce. But the story structure is clumsy and never unifies these themes, running all over the place. The characters are one dimensional, especially the women, and the roles for Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Fergie, and Sophia Loren all play like cameos as they walk on, perform their song, and then disappear from the narrative. The conclusion of the film drops the ball with the various narrative parts failing to come together and the movie ends rather than coming to a climax.
Bottom Line: Nine is a film in which the individual parts are more impressive than the whole. Although there are some strong performances and a few impressive musical numbers, the film just does not add up anything.
Episode: #273 (January 17, 2010)