"Nine": Movie Review (2009)

12/24/2009 Posted by Admin

Movie Review


Directed by Rob Marshall, written by Michael Tolkin and Anthony Minghella, 112 minutes, rated PG-13.

By Christopher Smith

The new Rob Marshall movie is as much a curiosity as it is a disaster.

Presumably, it’s about Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis, wasted), a smoky wreck and famous Italian director not unlike Federico Fellini who, in 1960s Rome, is about to follow two recent flops with his new movie, the aggressively titled, “Italia.”

Trouble is, much like Marcello Mastroioanni’s character in Fellini’s “8 1/2,” which inspired “Nine,” Guido is crippled by the prospect of failing. Without a script or, for that matter, an idea for a story, he has no clue what “Italia” even looks like.

The same can be said for Marshall (“Chicago”) about “Nine.” Watching his film unfold in its belches of choppy extravagance, you can’t help wondering if the director himself had a clue about how to approach this former Broadway musical and turn it into a movie.

An odd kind of symmetry is at work here. Both Guido and Marshall once knew critical success, and now each is trying to top those successes while overcoming a recent failure (for Marshall, “Memoirs of a Geisha”). The irony? Since this is Marshall’s second flop in a row, he essentially has matched Guido flop for flop.

Going into the movie, it’s difficult not to be excited to see it, particularly if you saw the terrific (and misleading) trailer, if you are a fan of Marshall’s “Chicago,” and also is you’re charged by the award-winning cast.

Joining Day-Lewis are Judi Dench, who adds pluck as Guido’s disenfranchised costume designer; Nicole Kidman as a pretty icicle with coiffed hair and parted lips who plays a popular actress we never come to know; Penelope Cruz as Guido’s saucy mistress who somehow finds a personality within the thin material; Kate Hudson as a reporter eager to know more about Guido’s new film--and how fashion plays a role in it; and then there’s the biggest waste of talent of all, Sophia Loren, who is Guido’s mother and apparently only here to stretch out her arms.

There are others, specifically Marion Cotillard as Guido’s wife, Louisa. She once was a leading actress in Guido’s films, but she hasn’t worked since marrying him, and she’s well aware of how often he has deceived her with his many affairs. You feel for her, which is a good thing because she’s the only character in this movie who elicits an emotional connection. Finally, there’s pop star Fergie, who looks like a bloated cherub with a frizzy fright wig on her head--and who delivers the best musical performance in her slutty rendition of “Be Italian.”

Each actor is offered the opportunity to sing and dance in separate stage productions that take place in the cobwebs of Guido’s mind, but good luck finding a cohesive storyline attached to them. Instead of informing the movie with some semblance of a plot, most of the performances feel stapled to this musical because, well, it’s being billed as a musical. Some of the productions are fun to watch (Cruz, Dench, Hudson), but these show-stoppers nevertheless are lazily filmed and they don’t move the story forward as they did in Marshall’s “Chicago.” They’re just here--the cinematic equivalent of roosters flapping their clipped wings and crowing at center stage.

Such is the movie. Poor Guido. Poor Marshall. Poor audiences, who likely were eager to see this movie (given the hype, who wasn’t?), but who likely will leave it knowing they deserved better.

Grade: D

View the trailer for "Nine" below. If only it truly had the energy showcased here. Thoughts?

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  1. Diana said...

    I have some friends that saw this also said it was no good! They actually walked out of the theatre.. they got tired of waiting for it to get better.. Talk about a movie that was raved about before it got out and then just really dissapointed everyone. I wish all people who reviewed movies were as honest as you are here on Week In rewind.
    I told my friends.. if you want honest movie reviews and what other people thought of a movie check out this site (week in rewind) . They said they were getting really tired of people giving movies all these thumbs up and then being bummed when they waste their money on something that clearly wouldn't have gotten a good review if someone had actually seen it indtead of just writing a review.
    Thanks for all your hard work Chris!

  2. Anonymous said...

    You all are horrible people!