I loved Nine. However, this is definitely not your grandmother’s musical and will not be for everyone. Based on the Broadway musical, which in turn is based on the autobiographical Fellini movie 8 ½, Nine is directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago) and written by Michael Tolkin and the late Anthony Minghella. Nine stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido, a legendary Italian director, struggling with creative block…struggling with his life. Pressed by colleagues and the press for details on his next movie, he flees to a spa to reflect on his life. While there he has present-day encounters with and flashbacks to the women who have been important in his life and have made him the man he has become…for better or worse. The problem with the movie is that not enough of these scenes flow well together.
Each actress in the film has a featured song, some with better success than others, but all do a really great job. Penelope Cruz, as Guido’s mistress, Carla, is terrific. Her scenes are powerful…you feel her hurt and pain. But who knew she could sing and dance…I mean really sing and dance. Her voice is strong and what that woman can do with her body is amazing. Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas, plays the prostitute who introduces the young Guido to sex. Her song, “Be Italian” is the film’s signature piece, the one you’ll hum leaving the theater and her way with it is a show stopper. Marion Cotillard, as Guido’s wife Luisa, has some very strong scenes that will break your heart and unlike her role as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, Cotillard does her own singing and does a great job. Nicole Kidman, as his muse, Claudia, has a rather small role, but she acquits herself nicely. Who knew Judi Dench, playing Guido’s costume designer, could sing, but sing she does and shows off a nice pair of legs in the process. Sophia Loren, displaying the oddest eye makeup in movie history, has a small but important role as Guido’s dead mother. Kate Hudson, whose role as journalist Stephanie was unnecessarily added for the movie, rounds out the female cast. Finally, there is Daniel Day-Lewis. There appears to be nothing this man cannot do. He’s extremely graceful and can more than carry a tune.
To some extent Nine is undone by its script, but if you love great singing and dancing, you’re in for a fun time at the movies.
3 nuggets out of 4