Bottom Line: Quite underrated.
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Fergie, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren
Anyone who is familiar with classic cinema knows the above quote is not from this film, but rather from 1967’s COOL HAND LUKE. Though the two films are completely unrelated, the quote defines NINE perfectly. I feel nobody is understanding the film as it should be understood. NINE is not a film about plot or story, though as it is a film, a story is necessary. It’s a film about film, music, and–most importantly–beauty.
NINE is based on a Broadway musical, which itself is loosely based on influential filmmaker Federico Fellini’s 1963 film 8½. Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a famous director at the top of his career. It is 1965, and it would be difficult to find someone who isn’t somehow affected by one of his films. However, he is facing a midlife crisis, suffering from writer’s block, and thus unable to churn out the script for his promised upcoming film, “Italia”. He consults with the women in his life for help with the film, the script, and the production in general.
The one outstanding flaw held by the film is that the plot is intriguing, but it barely takes off once established. It’s a bit ironic that a film about a man suffering from writer’s block has a pretty slight plot. The film is about style, not plot, and that is established within the first fifteen minutes or so. It works out perfectly in its technical work. What makes the film so intoxicating is its stunning visuals, filled with dazzling costume design, choreography, and cinematography. When combined with the wonderful soundtrack, the numbers easily become the most exhilarating points the picture has to offer. The most memorable scene, by a longshot, is “Be Italian”, which puts the visuals and music to the absolute best effort.
NINE is a very intriguing film. It’s a film that draws the viewer in to its realm of beauty and doesn’t dare to let go until the very end. I’ve stated several times that I’m not very much a fan of musicals or their adaptations. I have several reasons that I won’t try to waste time mentioning. But something about CHICAGO director Rob Marshall’s unique filmmaking made this film an incredibly enjoyable, entirely watchable experience.