Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • TBC
  • Musical, Romance
  • 2009
  • 120 mins

Nine

Nine

Synopsis

Chicago's Rob Marshall takes Broadway musical Nine and makes it his own. Daniel Day Lewis stars as the Fellini-inspired maestro creatively blocked mere days before shooting starts on his next film

About

Nine coulda been a contender. The cast of multiple award winners includes Daniel Day Lewis, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson and Penélope Cruz. And Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas. The director is Rob "Chicago: Best Picture" Marshall. It's based on a hit Broadway musical and strikes a note of would-be high art in its tale of frustrated director Guido Contini (Day Lewis), a character inspired by Federico Fellini. The production even has the weight of the mighty Weinsteins behind it.

It's a shame, then, that the whole thing is so godawful. There is a scene in 'I'm Alan Partridge' in which Norwich's finest finds himself unwillingly propositioned by a couple of swingers. Alarmed to discover they're "sex people", he retreats from the lady's keen advances, blurting out "don't rub your fanny on me!" It's not that Alan doesn't like sex per se. It's that she's so forward, so over the top, so cheesily would-be erotic. Watching Nine, you'll understand his feelings precisely.

Penélope Cruz is one of the most beautiful, attractive and hitherto classy women on the entire planet. To watch her grinding her crotch at the camera like a Pussycat Doll gone wild, while breathing "Cootchie, cootchie, cootchie coo, I've got a plan for what I'm gonna do to you" is a profoundly embarrassing experience. The script makes a clumsy attempt to pre-empt such prudish criticism at one point by putting this view in the mouth of that old kill-joy, his Excellency the Pope: "You think we need to see so much sex." Yes, but there's sex, and then there's "sex people".

Although Cruz, as Guido's mistress Carla, is the most self-abasing of the lot, all the women in the maestro's life worship the ground he walks on. We're told they're "strong women" who simply find him irresistible, but there is no evidence whatsoever of either strength on their part or irresistibility on his. Day-Lewis, often a very attractive man, just seems tired and spent here, and is not helped by a weak script. The women, though played by world class actresses, are cardboard cut-outs seen exclusively in terms of their relationship to Guido - the long-suffering wife, glamorous muse, smitten journalist, earthy prostitute, adoring mother, devoted confidante, over-sexed mistress. A man and his muses is a conceit that has been done to death, and if it is to work, there needs to be something special about the man.

Assessed as a musical, Nine is almost entirely a flop. There are barely three memorable songs, the best of the bunch perhaps surprisingly being a new number, 'Cinema Italiano', written by Maury Yeston for the film version, shot in a frenzy of MTV editing and performed with some gusto by Kate Hudson, who is one of the few actors here who actually looks at ease dancing as well as singing. Come back, Chicago, we retract any harsh word we ever whispered about you - at least Catherine Zeta Jones wasn't afraid to belt out a number and tackle some proper choreography.

If you want a modern take on the musical that does melodrama and kinetic spectacle, with an artist's muse and a love story at the heart of the whole daft sparkly package, Moulin Rouge is what you're looking for. Nine barely compares to the Moulin Rouge 'Lady Marmalade' music video, with its lingerie clad ensemble of Christina Aguilera, Pink, Mya and Lil Kim looking the picture of understated elegance by comparison.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Kate Hudson, Penélope Cruz, Rob Marshall, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Director: John DeLuca
  • Screen Writer: Arthur Kopit, Anthony Minghella
  • Writer (Book): Dion Beebe
  • Producer: Marc Platt, Harvey Weinstein, Michael Tolkin, Ryan Kavanagh, Rob Marshall
  • Photographer: Maury Yeston

In a nutshell

Welcome to the Pussycat Dolls Do Italy. If we wanted to see a middle-aged has-been drooling over an Ann Summers live show, we'd stalk Peter Stringfellow.

by Catherine Bray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Our Kind of Traitor

    Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis and Naomie Harris star in this British spy thriller, adapted from the novel by John le Carré (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy).

  • Film4

    I Killed My Mother

    French Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan stars in his directorial debut, a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama about the bonds between mother and son.

  • Film4

    This Is 40 on Film4

    (2012) 124 mins 15 Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann star in writer-director-producer Judd Apatow's relationship comedy-drama, a 'sort of sequel' to his second hit feature, Knocked Up.

  • Film4

    The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones on Film4

    The first installment from Cassandra Clare's bestselling YA franchise starring Lily Collins.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Channel 4 announces major increase to Film4 funding

    Film4 funding has increased to a record £25m in 2016, with major new deals announced with Fox Searchlight and FP Films. Film4 will be backing new work from Lenny Abrahamson, Yorgos Lanthimos, Andrew H

  • Channel 4 Blog

    The 36th London Film Critics Circle Awards

    The Film4-backed 45 Years takes Best Actor, Best Actress and Best British Film at the 36th London Critics' Circle Film Awards Other prizes for Film4-backed films included Breakthrough Filmmaker for d

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share