Friday, December 25, 2009


Today I saw Nine, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and a slew of women.

Director Guido Contini (Day-Lewis) has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He believes this is because he is about to make another film, but really it's because he can't successfully manage his addiction to women.

We meet each of the ladies in his life through a series of musical numbers and brief encounters with him. His mistress (Penelope Cruz) gets the most screen time.

Really, there's not much of a story here and therein lies the problem. A famous, handsome director is approaching a state of nervous breakdown because he has it all and "all" turns out to be too much.

His wife Louisa (Marion Cotillard), aside from being beautiful, does nothing to convince us that he wouldn't get bored being married to her. She's alternately obedient and disobedient, then finally unwilling to look the other way at her husband's transgressions. He probably truly loves her, but then again, he probably truly loves all of them.

A consistent ear for him comes in the form of Lilli (Dame Judi Dench), a wise costume designer that sees not only his aesthetic vision, but also his wandering eye. She provides a motherly like counsel for him while his real mother (Sophia Loren) appears to be paraded out into numbers just so we can marvel at how beautiful she still is.

In the not-sure-why-they're-even-there department we find a Vogue writer named Stephanie (Kate Hudson) who offers possibly the best dance sequence, though shows no evidence beyond physical attraction that she has a connection with Guido. There's also a very random number with the voluptuous Saraghina (Fergie), an apparent beach recluse who enabled the younger Guido to learn about women. She's easily the best singer of the bunch (no surprise there), but her performance feels underutilized because she barely moves from her dancing chair.

Also on screen is the director's muse, Claudia (Nicole Kidman) who serves as nothing more than a reminder that Guido likes beautiful women. Hey, guess what? We already knew that.

His most believable and developed relationship is with his mistress Carla, who truly loves him despite her own marriage. He treats her as men typically treat their mistresses: hiding her away and orchestrating her every move, then forgetting about her once he's had his fill of the sex and adoration only a good mistress can provide. And yes, there are always consequences for all involved.

The shame about this movie is the amount of Oscar® caliber talent that shares the screen, but with the exception of Day-Lewis, doesn't get to prove it. He is amazing in whatever he does and this role is no different—in fact, the most delightful thing about Nine is finally seeing him act as a somewhat traditional leading man. He's sexy, he's well-dressed, he hasn't killed anyone (that we know of) and good God, he even sings!

But it's not enough to make up for this pieced-together series of vignettes that are too weak to amount to a quality musical.

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