Famous film director Guido Contini (Day-Lewis) struggles to find harmony in his professional and personal lives, as he engages in dramatic relationships with his wife, his mistress, his muse, his agent, and his mother.
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There’s just something missing about Nine that I can’t quite put my finger on. The musical numbers are fine, with fun performances particularly from Kidman, and the acting while at times feels a little stale, is solid enough to warrant a few praises. Yet after watching I felt there was something wrong and the more I thought about, the more I realized that the flow of the film, the pacing, or rather just the energy in general was either interrupted, forced, or just not there. It’s a shame too because with an all star cast with the impeccable Daniel Day Lewis at the helm, you would think that nothing could go wrong. But alas, it does.
Reaching a midlife crisis, Guido Contini is struggling to find is creative mojo as he works on his latest film, proving more and more difficult to complete. His current state leads him to romantic involvements with several women including his wife (Cotillard), mistress (Cruz), film star (Kidman), American journalist (Hudson) and prostitute from his youth (Fergie). Each one performing their own musical number and while some are entertaining, there’s just not enough to recommend.
Even Daniel Day Lewis is off. A surprise, I know, since everything this guy touches turns to gold, but this time, it’s more like bronze. However Fergie was excellent, providing probably the best performance in the film, and along with Kate Hudson who did a fine job during her number as well. But still, there are really no memorable tunes.
The film is based on a musical play of the same name, centering the story on director Federico Fellini experience as younger, although both adaptations taker liberty to provide a more entertaining story. While struggling with writer’s block, Fellini began recalling his past loves, every woman that had an impact on his life. This idea became the inspiration for “8 1/2” a classic that follows his exact story, to a degree.
Unfortunately, something is lost in Marshal’s adaptation. It almost feels uninspired and perhaps that what’s wrong with the film. Marshal simply took someone’s idea and just pasted it onto another medium; film. But he forgot to keep its heart.
Marshal did an amazing job with Chicago. Powerful performances, a well crafted story and extravagant and fun musical song and dance. No wonder people thought musicals were going to make a strong come back. Until they see this, and are reminded that even musicals can lack originality, storytelling, and even, yes, compelling music. Fergie and Hudson’s performances are just not enough to recommend this film.
Is Nine is awful? No. But there is no reason to run out and see Nine when you could easily watch Chicago and have a more pleasant, enjoyable, and fun experience. Nine is simply a misfire in music, ambition, and direction. Marshal was trying too hard to impress us and it shows. Daniel Day Lewis is always a joy to watch, but here it’s almost painful try and save something that quite frankly can’t be saved. Nine is just not worth your time.