28 December 2009

Review: "Nine"

Nine is the kind of Oscar-bait that is so loaded with stars that there has been awards buzz since it was announced. Nine stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman and Sophia Loren, all of whom have won Oscars. I am sure that Fergie and Kate Hudson must feel left out when their names do not appear in the trailer with such distinction. The film is based off the 1982 stage musical, which is itself an adaptation of Federico Fellini's film 8 1/2. Fellini's film has influenced many, including Woody Allen, whose film Stardust Memories (1980) is an homage to Fellini. Nine is directed by Rob Marshall, the Academy Award-nominated director of Chicago, which is my favourite musical from this decade. This is only his third film as director, and I had very high expectations. Nine was filmed in basically the same style as Chicago, but it lacked the same kind of standout performances and does not have the signature song that all musicals need.

Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Guido Contini, a world-famous Italian film director who is struggling to complete his current film. His most recent films have not fared well and most only want to talk about his early successes. He runs away, leaving his wife (Marion Cotillard) alone and confused, while his mistress (Penélope Cruz) arrives expecting to have his full attention. Guido must also deal with his costume designer and confidante (Judi Dench), his mother (Sophia Loren), an American reporter (Kate Hudson) and the demands of his actress and muse (Nicole Kidman). Guido finds himself under so much pressure from the women in his life that it jeopardizes the future of his film.

My biggest problem with Nine is that the musical numbers failed to energize the film, and sometimes I found myself wishing for them to be finished. I found the staging to be too similar to Chicago, and I do not think that it works well in this film. While I did find Marion Cotillard and Penélope Cruz to be the two highlights, Kate Hudson was definitely the worst of the bunch. Maybe she has been in too many lame films recently that she has forgotten how to act. The story within the film was interesting and makes me want to see Fellini's 8 1/2, but it fails as a musical and was one of the year's biggest disappointments.

My rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.

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