Alli has been wanting to see Nine ever since she heard of it and it seemed like a can’t miss film: a musical based on a Fellini movie that was directed by the guy who directed Chicago and starred Daniel Day-Lewis and like, a bajillion other Oscar winners. Oh, and it was also put out by perennial Oscar hoarder, Harvey Weinstein.
It really had the pedigree to be something special.
Yeah…not so much.
It wasn’t that it was bad…it had moments of brilliance, particularly the choreographed numbers with the Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie “Be Italian” and Kate Hudson’s “Cinema Italiano”. And Daniel Day-Lewis…well, that guy is just phenomenal. Even faced with sub-par writing and a flimsy plot, he really delivers as Guido “The Maestro” Contini, the famed Italian film director with writer’s block. He brings life to a completely unlikable character who is tortured because of the 7 women of his past and present: his wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his muse (Nicole Kidman), his makeup artist (Dame Judi Dench), an American journalist (Hudson), a prostitute from his childhood (Fergie), and his enigmatic, canonized mother (Sophia Loren).
Honestly, if this movie is about anything, it can be found in the 3-minute “Cinema Italiano” number with Kate Hudson, in which she actually sings that style is more important than substance and that’s why Contini’s movies are so great.
It seems like Rob Marshall took this nugget a little too close to heart because while the film is absolutely gorgeous (one of my favorite scenes was the opening one where we meet Guido for the first time in his sound stage…that shot is amazing), but it completely falls apart because it can’t deliver on any semblance of a story.
Without Daniel Day-Lewis and Marion Cotillard, this movie would be a complete travesty, but they manage to save it in their unique ways. Cotillard is so charming as Conini’s tortured wife who knows that he’s a scoundrel, but sticks with him “for the film”. I didn’t particularly like her in Public Enemies and was really bummed when she beat out Ellen Page’s Juno for Best Actress in the 2008 Oscars, but she is really likable in this movie, despite its many flaws.
Like I said, Nine has some moments and is buoyed by two very good performances, but it can’t overcome the terrible script and just didn’t deliver as the Oscar bait that Harvey Weinstein wanted us to believe that it was.