Everybody loses in Nine, the all-star musical desecration of a Fellini classic | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

Everybody loses in Nine, the all-star musical desecration of a Fellini classic 

click to enlarge Penélope Cruz in "Nine" - PHOTO BY DAVID JAMES/ THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

Nine opens Friday throughout the Triangle

Revisiting the musical genre for the first time since his Oscar-winning Chicago, director Rob Marshall adapts another Broadway production based on previous work with Nine. The film is based on the Tony-award winning musical, itself derived from an Italian play by Mario Fratti inspired by Federico Fellini's 1963 autobiographical film, 8 ½. Even if the pedigree for Marshall's film is as muddled as a Fellini storyline, one thing is crystal clear: Nine is a bombastic mess.

Daniel Day-Lewis plays esteemed 50-year-old Italian director Guido Contini, now suffering a midlife crisis and bout of writer's block just as filming is poised to begin on his epic comeback, tentatively titled Italia. As Guido tries to jumpstart his creative juices, he is forced to confront his chaotic personal life by reconciling a bevy of formative women in his life. They include Luisa (Marion Cotillard), his diffident wife; Carla (Penélope Cruz), his comely (and cuckoo) mistress; Claudia (Nicole Kidman), his platinum-blond film-star muse; Lili (Judi Dench), his confidant and costume designer; Stephanie (Kate Hudson), an American Vogue fashion reporter; Saraghina (Stacy Ferguson, a/k/a Fergie), a mondana from his youth; and his mother (Sophia Loren).

click to enlarge Judi Dench in "Nine" - PHOTO BY DAVID JAMES/ THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

Set in 1965, Nine aims to present a multilayered, contemplative examination of life, love and craft, much like its Fellini forbearer. In actuality, the screenplay by Michael Tolkin and the late Anthony Minghella depicts the philandering, chain-smoking, sports-car driving Guido as a monumental bore who spends more time lamenting his inability to make new films than convincing us he was ever capable of crafting one.

There is a glint in Day-Lewis' eye that suggests a great actor aching to unleash his talents but not quite sure how with the material he's been given. Even still, Guido's accent—particularly when singing—sounds weirdly like The Count from Sesame Street. That is better than Dench, I suppose, who doesn't even try; her brogue is as Italian as Chef Boyardee.

click to enlarge Daniel Day-Lewis in "Nine" - PHOTO BY DAVID JAMES/ THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

The already lackluster narrative interludes feel like mere bridges to the next musical offering. With the occasional exception of Luisa, the rest of the female characters exist mainly for their particularized songs, most of them burlesque, kitschy spectacles that are a bit like watching a Cirque du Soleil show sans the acrobatics. Indeed, this disposable use of seven A-list actresses is emblematic of 2009's woeful roster of female film roles.

The only thing worse than Guido's chronic, self-induced malaise is Maury Yeston's ear-gouging lyrics. The original Broadway numbers are grueling enough, including the treacly "My Husband Makes Movies" and a garish production of "Be Italian" featuring Fergie. What's more, Yeston penned three new songs for the film, including Hudson's retched "Cinema Italiano" (sample lyrics: "Those scenes I love to see / From Guido's POV / There's no one else with his unique director's vision").

Forget Guido—those responsible for Nine were apparently the ones afflicted with a bad case of writer's block. In their case, the cure is worse than the disease.

click to enlarge Kate Hudson and Daniel Day-Lewis and in "Nine" - PHOTO BY DAVID JAMES/ THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Comments

Nice blog! It will be very good story. I appreciate to the director of this animated documentary film. Its very …

by demetriusgibson on An animated documentary about the Israel-Lebanon war doesn't go far enough (Film Review)

The little boys seeing the leaked photos you all are so blind sided, the boys step dad and his friends. …

by thethinker on The West Memphis Three are free ... what about the real killer? (Film Review)

Most Read

© 2015 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation