The Dallas Movie Screening Group

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nine Review


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

In 1965 Guido Contini is a famed director starting a new movie called Italia. His past movies are known for interpreting the way world sees Italy and how Italians sees themselves. The press, the film crew, and the star of the movie are all waiting in anticipation to start shooting. Unfortunately Contini is stressed as he doesn’t have a script or any firm ideas of what he’s going to do.

Adaptated from Federico Fellini's autobiographical film , started as a Tony Award winning musical play staring Raul Julia and later Antonio Banderas as Contini. Banderas was considered for the film at one point. This version directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago) is handsomely photographed with great period sets, makeup and costumes.

Daniel Day Lewis surprisingly sings as Guido as he contemplates the women in his life that love him. His dead mother (Sophia Loren) who he hallucinates giving him advice, his costume director Lili (Judy Dench), his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), his lover Carla (Penélope Cruz), Vogue reporter Stephanie (Kate Hudson), his muse and star his movie Claudia (Nicole Kidman), and Saraghina (Fergie), the prostitute he encountered as a child. I had thought the number Nine referred to the number of women in Guido’s life, but Maury Yeston who wrote the music and lyrics, explained that it was taken from the body of work created by Fellini, and that if you add music to ,”it’s like a half a number more.”

Guido becoming increasingly overcome with the demands of everyone around him runs out of a press conference. He hides at a spa near Venice. He calls his wife, but toys with her coming down. Instead he calls his mistress who he houses in some crummy hotel near the train station. His producer finds out where he is and brings the movie crew down to work. Lili is creating costumes for a movie that has no plot or time frame, Claudia signs on to the movie despite not having seen the script which everyone keeps promising to send, his wife shows up at the spa and encounters the mistress. All the while Guido is chain smoking and unraveling.

Each of the women get a big musical number as if Guido’s realizing it from on his half finished movie set. The centerpiece is Kate Hudson’s go-go style “Cinema Italiano” number. Judi Dench shows her old school movie roots in a “Folies Bergère” stage show. The best surprise belongs to Penélope Cruz’s seductive performance "A Call from the Vatican".

As good and as interesting each little piece presented, the whole package is lacking in substance and cohesiveness. Daniel Day Lewis is a method actor, and he studied Italian for this role which he spoke consistently when not working. But he was so serious and depressing. It begs to wonder if Banderas would have lightened up the movie despite his physical vertical challenges next to Nicole Kidman.
Review by: Reesa

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