Sunday, January 26, 2014

Nine (2009) [PG-13] ***

Nine is the story of Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), an Italian film director in the mid-1960s, whose early films were beloved, but whose most recent ones are considered flops. Film industry journalists believe Contini has run out of inspiration, and the people around him who depend on him for their livelihood anxiously await his completion of a screenplay so they can begin shooting his next film.

His coterie includes his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard) who was formerly his leading lady and now realizes that she is nothing special to him, his sexy, clingy, self-destructive mistress Carla (Penélope Cruz), his current leading lady and inspirational muse Claudia (Nicole Kidman), his level-headed, realistic costume designer Lilli (Judi Dench), his deceased Mamma (Sophia Loren) who continues to provide support and encouragement, his producer Dante (Ricky Tognazzi), and Stephanie (Kate Hudson) a Vogue journalist who throws herself at him.

Beset on all sides, Contini escapes Rome for a seaside resort in southern Italy, but the entire film crew descends on him, giving him no peace, pressuring him to write a screenplay, and to give new young actresses screen tests, until finally Contini is forced to admit that he is without inspiration, there is no screenplay and he has nothing more to give them.

This is a fascinating story about the unraveling of a man's life, told from the perspective of the women in his life. The film was adapted from the 1982 Broadway musical smash hit Nine, which was written by playwright Arthur Kopit, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, and which was itself inspired by Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical film  , which starred Marcello Mastroianni as Guido, Anouk Aimée as his wife Luisa, Claudia Cardinale as his muse Claudia and Sandra Milo as his mistress Carla. The new film's cinematography is intentionally reminiscent of that found in Fellini's classic films of the 1960s such as La Dolce Vita, Boccaccio '70 and . While the individual performances are excellent, the whole is definitely less than the sum of its parts. The film lacks a clear story arc as well as the surreal, dreamlike quality found in Fellini's classic films. I could not help feeling that this would have been much more successful as a mature drama, rather than a Broadway musical converted to a film musical. Regardless, if you enjoyed Moulin Rouge, Chicago and The Phantom of the Opera, you probably will enjoy Nine

Labels: drama, filmmaking, musical, romance    
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 49/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=51, viewers=58)    

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