Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Movie Review: Nine

Directed by Rob Marshall
Screenplay by Anthony Minghella
Broadway Musical by Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston

Obsession, lust, and using the ones you care about are at the heart of the film “Nine.”  Rob Marshall brings to the big screen a story about a self-centered Italian movie director, Guido Contini, who finds himself in the face of an immovable writers road block.  With only a few weeks to write his script, Contini embarks on a desperate hunt for inspiration which he enlists [unwilling] help from his wife, assistant, mistress, muse and mother, all within the confines of his Broadway imagination.  With time running out, Guido must search for some way of creating his film and still give in to the demands that his art form commands of him.

My Thoughts
When this film had its first musical number, sung by Daniel Day-Lewis, I was worried that this would be a carbon copy of Chicago.  However, as the film rolled on, Rob Marshall creates something new an innovative with his presentation of “Nine.”  With the combined talents of exceptional actors and actresses, the story of Guido Contini becomes one of the more powerful stories about an obsessive man who never quite gets what’s wrong with him, until it’s too late.

I don’t believe any Broadway musical will ever be adapted to screen as well as Chicago was.  However, I would say Nine has a much more mature and stronger storyline to work with.  Marshall continually shows scenes of Contini’s desires and wishes.  This includes watching a prostitute display the erotic pleasures of life to a bunch of ten year olds, having a rather ‘heaty’ phone conversation with his mistress, and even sitting in a gentlemen’s club, watching his own wife strip for so many men while he sits there and only observes like a director would for his leading lady.  What makes this film so artful are the imaginative, yet disturbing Broadway interpretations of these fantasies. 

It’s clear that Marshall wants his audience to see that Contini lived his life as a Broadway musical filled with sex and sexual fantasies.  The opening scene shows all of the women in his life (past and present) dancing away on a stage in lingerie, all of which seemingly want Contini, his own mother was even included in all of these fantasies!  But when push came to shove, he found himself unable to write a script for the film to be shot in two months time.  With the anxiety and torment of failing as an artist, Contini uses the women in his life as inspirational vessels that ultimately fail him as well.  It isn’t until the end when Contini realizes that the way in which Contini uses these women has brought him nothing more than confusion and loneliness.  And it is that very thing which inhibits Contini from writing his script; his obsessive and self-centered nature made him so lonely that he had nothing to cling onto, not even his wife.

Now while I’m torn between hating Contini and feeling sorry for him and his idiocy, I still smiled throughout the majority of the film.  The musical performances by each and every character were inspiring and moving.  Marshall brings in a stellar cast of women who dominate the screen and give new meaning to a Broadway “Movie” musical.  With very well known voices such as Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Sophia Loren, and some very surprising vocal talents from Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Judi Dench and Stacey Ferguson (Fergie), Nine is one of the more creative and musically gifted Broadway shows to hit movie theaters across America.

My favorite musical scene features Fergie, who has a set of pipes I would die to have!  The entire scene was disturbing and twisted, yet musical and choreographically brilliant in every way.  You would have had to get a crane to lift my jaw back onto its hinges with how awe-struck I was watching the entire sequence.  I think this is mainly by how shocking it was to see Fergie doing something that’s a complete 180 from her normal musical endeavors, having sung mainly with Hip Hop groups (Black Eyed Peas) and other fast paced, upbeat, Hip Hop related music.  The ending to her song “Be Italian” especially showed off her vocal talents along her finesse and versatility as a musician and I wonder if this will be a huge breaking out for her.  I certainly hope to hear more stuff from her that resembles the vocal genius she displayed in Nine.

I found no fault with this film in the least.  I loved the story involving a man so obsessed with his career and his drive to consistently be a master of his craft that he cannot see the reason why he is unable to write anything.  He allows himself to covet and sexualize every woman in his life, which in turn makes his life meaningless and empty.  And every woman, for some reason loves and hates him at the same time.  Truly, this is a film that speaks a lot of truth about what the men of today value, vs. what the women of today value.  It is the ultimate commentary on male and female relationships and how they can affect people when they are being used.

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

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