Starring: Daniel Day lewis, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Stacey Ferguson, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer(s): Michael Tolkin, Anthony Minghella
Cinematography: Dion Beebe
Original Score: Andrea Guerra
Running Time: 117 Mins.
A film about a tortured genius starring Daniel Day lewis, but it’s a musical and is directed by Rob Marshall, he behind the awful and most undeserving Oscar winner ever Chicago, this was a combination that was always going to draw and repel me in equal measure. With Day Lewis talent over-riding the deeply mediocre direction of Marshall or the directors said direction sucking all life from everything involved. I’m sad, but unsurprised, to report that it is very much the latter, though not all the blame can be laid at the feet of Marshall with pretty much all others involved in the production at fault in one way or another.
As ever I strive to see the good in even the worst of films, and while what goodness could be gleamed from Nine, even in the most insignificant way, amongst the negatives, I feel loathed to give the film any praise. Yes Day Lewis is good and eminently watchable as ever, but when surrounded by a production so flawed, so deathly dull, I struggle to give him any praise for fear of promoting anyone to watch the film. Apparently he learnt to speak Italian, seemingly pointless given he uses about 5 words, his accent still sounds pantomime like, I would like to think he knew how badly scripted the film is and chose to play it as OTT as he could. His Guido Contini, supposedly a director who has hit a brick wall on his current production, bounces from each of the women in his life searching for inspiration yet finding nothing but confusion.
And that is it, that is the plot, not in a nutshell but literally there is nothing more going on, many will claim it is about the relationship he has with each woman, but the script allows no depth to any of his muses, each woman flailing around searching fro depth in a film that craves Oscar worthiness and depth but has neither. I have never liked Marshall’s work, with both Memoirs of a Geisha and especially Chicago proving flat and lifeless, Nine simply exemplifies these criticisms, leading its way to the all too anti-climatic climax.
But, you may say, Nine is a musical first and foremost, plot matters not a jot, and neither does depth, well yes they do actually, but even if that weren’t so, the songs are simply forgettable at best, two numbers stand out as slightly memorable and it is in Fergie (of Black Eyed peas fame) that injects a little life into the production as, seemingly, a prostitute. Be Italian is the song she belts out and as a true performer, she has the spark that the rest of the film sorely needs. For some heart Marion Cotillard tries her best but again is so lacking in material she looks a little lost as her scenes progress, all the cast can sing which is at least one saving grace, meaning it is not painful on the ears but that is not a recommendation.
That the cast is as starry as it is Cruz (slutty), Kidman (pointless), Hudson ( serves only to paper over the fact that the film itself is so flimsy and lightweight, it is important in transition from stage to screen, especially with musicals, that the energy is captured and it is true that many musicals should simply be left onstage and where Marshall is concerned that is most certainly true. He seems incapable of giving any sense of emotion, whether it be fun, tragedy, or even an ironic knowingness, instead there is a stage and some people singing and dancing and failing to connect with the audience in any way, meaning that Nine becomes that worst of things, a truly boring film.
Even Daniel day Lewis and his bevy of beauties can’t save Nine, failing to hide the fact that Marshall could not direct his way out of a paper bag, boring and flat in equal measure, surely the worst thing a musical could be described as.