By FOX43tv.com's Film Reviewer, Stephanie Cooke
Nine is a film about a musical about afilm. Are you with me? Director Rob Marshall (who didChicago on the big screen) takes the Tony-award winning Broadwaymusical and makes a movie. The problem is that the 1982Broadway musical was based on the 1963 film 8½ by Federico Fellini, which isessentially about nothing.
Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a famed Italian Director whohas had a few flops and his inspiration is all dried up. Heputs on a show for the staff and producer that he has a script andthe pre-production goes on at break-neck speed. In themeantime, he does all he can to conjure up a story -- talks withhis wife (Marion Cotillard). No help. Summons hismistress (Penelope Cruz). Nothing. Prays to his deadmother (Sophia Loren). Nada. He turns to an Americanfashion writer (Kate Hudson). Nope. He asks for help from aCardinal and He summons the memory of the neighborhood woman of thenight (Stacey "Fergie" Ferguson) from his childhood. Not athing. He awaits the arrival of his favorite actress and starof his movies (Nicole Kidman) to inspire him. No suchluck. Not even his friend and wardrober (Dame Judi Dench) caninspire him.
Along the way each of these encounters features a song and dancethat propels us into the imagination of the director. Ienjoyed almost all of the performances. Far and away Fergie'swas the best. I wanted to jump up and applaud. I wasalso impressed with Kate Hudson's number, although in her go-goboots and mini skirt, I couldn't help thinking how much shereminded me of her mother dancing. My problem with musicalmovies is always that I feel like jumping up and applauding like Iwould seeing it on Broadway. But in a theater, nobody reallywants to hear all that.
As the film draws to a close, his wife leaves him and he isforced to admit to the world that there is no script and thereforeno movie. He goes into a self-imposed exile and realizes allthat searching for help was the movie! And action! Offwe go to start the movie, only we've already seen it.
Nine was written by Michael Tolkin and (the late) AnthonyMinghella, based on the musical Nine and adapted from the film 8½ . My biggest problem with the filmis that it felt as though I wasn't able to fully connect to thecharacters. It's as if each of the adaptations stripped awayparts of the original characters. The numbers were reallywell done, but at the same time, didn't quite seem to get tiedtogether by the rest of the story.
The film is beautiful. The costumes are perfect, the setsare extravagant and the location shots in Italy are gorgeous and sois Daniel Day-Lewis. I never thought of him as particularlyhandsome, but now I do. Despite his lack of being Italian, heplays Italian well. And Marion Cotillard draws out the onlyreal emotion in the film. Nine has it's flaws, but is worthseeing.
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