Arrogant, self-centered movie director Guido Contini finds himself struggling to find meaning, purpose, and a script for his latest film endeavor. With only a week left before shooting begins, he desperately searches for answers and inspiration from his wife, his mistress, his muse, and his mother.
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At the Movies
Nine (PG) * * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Lots of hype has been surrounding the release of Nine. Already a Golden Globe favourite and frontrunner for serious Oscar consideration, this musical attraction from Alliance Films does have unique fan appeal. Thanks to a stellar star-studded cast you can’t help but get caught up in all the frenzy at Tinseltown (on Pender, free parking) and the Ridge Theatre in Vancouver.
Picture the art of filmmaking and Italy during the swinging 60s and you’ve found the mood of Nine not wanting. Taken from the hit stage play Nine is a sexy look at a rough around the edges director not unlike the high flying aura that Fellini grew famous for. Man of the hour Guido Continini is definitely the one to watch out for. Brought to life by the always impressive Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York) our Guido is not precisely the ideal mama’s boy. You see this fortyish director has a bit of a roving eye and is not above temptation. Come to think of it this married man does not have to go far without some sexy starlet throwing themselves at him.
Women galore populate Guido’s life. Raised by a mom played by screen legend Sofia Loren Nine tracks the tumultuous affairs of her wayward son over time. Accompanied by zesty musical numbers you sort of sleepwalk your way through the motions as Guido gets tangled up in countless dilemmas of which filmmaking seems to be the furthest thing from his mind. Instead almost all of this cad’s time gets consumed by passionate affairs with many different women.
Heartbreak surrounds this man’s success with excess being his forte. Married to wife Luisa it’s tough at times to watch this poor girl being taken advantage of though Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies) rises to the challenge and effectively garners sympathy for this forgotten woman. One of many women to put the squeeze on Guido is Carla full of bombast by way of Penelope Cruz (Broken Embraces).
Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) knows his way around musicals and pulls of some great numbers. High energy resonates throughout this 119 minute production that does a very good job recreating the 1960s era of Italian cinema. Lots of skin that’s a touch erotic serves to entice modern audiences as well as Guido when lovely Carla shows off. Even James Bond’s own M gets in on the act with Dame Judi Dench (Iris) showing considerable poise and panache as Lilli, the ultimate costume designer with a wicked tongue and inside information on all the affairs behind the scenes.
Lavish production numbers showcase all the women who grace this film. Nicole Kidman (Australia) shines as local sex symbol Claudia complete with background dancers in song and dance numbers that easily compare favourably with treats from Vegas or Paris, France.
Here though is the rub against this film. Story-wise, the material here is just not that memorable or meaningful. What are fascinating, however, are the voices of all the cast who can all comfortably carry tunes flawlessly. And anyone whose ever been involved in an actual movie or play will be able to relate to the zaniness of all those back stage machinations which, again, we’ve unfortunately all seen before.
Give Nine an eight for effort but a six for substance. Gorgeous costumes and slick choreography make for an interesting night out. Good, but not great, you can sense the sparks fly between Day-Lewis and friends which may just make a trip to your local cinema worthwhile, especially if you enjoy musicals.
Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com