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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Style over substance

8/10
Author: meininky from United States
19 January 2010

Nine is a hard film to review, because it defines its problems without solving any. Guido Contini (an excellent Daniel Day-Lewis) is a director who lacks direction, a writer with nothing to say, an artist whose muses have stopped inspiring him. When he reaches that point, what can he do? Instead of taking time off or waiting for a new idea, Guido dives headfirst into a project with no sense of what to do. He's a man defined by the women in his life, and as he searches for the soul of his project, he goes from one to another. That's as far as the plot goes, which would be fine if the characters had depth, but unfortunately, few of them do.

Just like Guido, the film is defined by the women who pop up along the way. Each of the women (such as Guido's wife, mistress, mother, costume designer, and childhood beach stripper) has a big, flashy song-and-dance number in the vein of Chicago's fantasy musical sequences, not surprising as Rob Marshall helmed both films. The numbers themselves are beautifully designed, shot, and edited, but the music largely falls flat. Fergie (yes, Fergie) and Kate Hudson get the best songs, though Day-Lewis and Marion Cotillard also impress with their material. Judi Dench delivers a strong performance, while Sophia Loren and Nicole Kidman fail to leave any sort of lasting impression. Penelope Cruz gives a typical performance, not at all deserving of the awards attention she has been receiving.

It's hard to swallow that the frustration that's inherent to Guido's character is a central focus of the film, because it often makes it painful to watch. It's not fun to watch a film director mope around and not make any decisions, but it does allow the viewer to understand the situation more. Focusing on the difficulty of creating something meaningful and honest and beautiful certainly resonates, but because Guido has no inkling of where his film is going, there isn't even a chance to really get behind him. The only parts of the impending production intact are the set and costumes, but the story is nonexistent. It's an unfortunate irony.

Still, despite its narrative inadequacies, Nine impresses on a visual level. The costumes are gorgeous and numerous, the main set is epic but believable and lends itself well to the various musical numbers. The technical construction is impressive, particularly during the songs, which often contain a montage of reality and fantasy, past and present, and black- and-white and color, adding more depth and a more dynamic feel to the repetitive musical motifs.

Nine is definitely an instance of style over substance, which isn't necessarily surprising in the musical genre. It's just unfortunate that such a vast pool of talented actors didn't get better material to work with. There are moments that are unspeakably beautiful (the opening scene is one of the best of the year), but for every moment like that, there are two that fail to impress. I want to love it, but I can't.

6/10

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Did not reach the near perfect 9!

7/10
Author: meeza (themeezaman@hotmail.com) from Miami, Fl
13 January 2010

Here are Nine reasons why Director Rob Marshall's movie musical "Nine" will not have nine lives, but then again it did not hit a 9 in the Bad Movie Richter Scale (10 being the worst); in other words: "Nine" had its highs, semi-highs, semi-lows, and lows. 1) High: The diversified Daniel Day Lewis was impressive in his starring role as Guido Contini, the acclaimed Italian movie director who has run a rough patch in his career & marriage and therefore is conflicted both personally and professionally. Even though the great DDL again hit his thespian notes, he could not hit the low or high notes in his couple of singing sequences. 2) Semi-High: Marion Cotillard was moderately effective as Guido's suffering wife Luisa, the former movie actress who sacrificed her career for a hopeful stable marriage with the adulterous Guido which did not exactly come into fruition. She probably would have had more luck marrying Father Guido Sarducci. 3) Semi-Low: The ensemble supporting acting lineup of these Oscar divas: Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, and Judi Dench did not exactly score a 9 with their underdeveloped roles. Even though Cruz came close to that in her emotive role as Guido's attention-seeking mistress Carla. Kate Hudson was the most useless of them all playing an artificial Vogue reporter who did not exactly strike the charismatic pose. 4) Low: Michael Tolkin's screenplay of "Nine" was shamefully obtuse and ridiculous. Sure the film "Nine" is an adaptation of the Broadway show, but Tolkin's cinematic scribe version was definitely a no-show. 5) Low: Director Rob Marshall's marshall plan of the musical singing sequences for each character in the film laid flat and unappealing in its presentation. 6) High: I must admit the song "Be Italian" performed by Fergie in the film is a catchy tune. 7) Low: Speaking of Fergie, she looked like she ate all the Black Eyes Peas with her overweight look in the movie. 8) Semi-High: Nicole Kidman playing Guido's leading actress Claudia was not at her best thespian wise, but still dominated the screen with her ravishing beauty. 9) Low: "Nine" is supposed to be a love letter on Italian Cinema and a homage to Federico Fellini's classic "8 ½" , but it performed more as a subjective tale of one man's insecurities & infidelities caused by his intrinsic egoism. *** Average

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Great distribution - no action

5/10
Author: cori-bega from Israel
9 January 2010

By the end of the movie I wanted to go back to Italy... so that I would get some much missed action. Great distribution, outstanding costumes and an elaborated scenery it's clearly not enough for someone to spend 1 hour + in a cinema hall.

The action or any kind of take away is missing completely which makes this movie a big test of someone's patience. Sensual scenes usually sell but not if there's zero action. I don't regret seeing it but I would not recommend anyone to go to the cinema for this movie. It's like you see a nice decoration on a window store but you are forced to stay and watch it though nothing happens.

Fergie is the biggest positive surprise with all the others doing a very good performance but the screenplay missed both in the movie as in reality.

I guess the names will bring the audience and maybe all this big shots should be more selective when accepting a role as it can fire back on their reputation as well. I'll certainly look for reviews next time irrespective of the names...

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Worth it for the actors

6/10
Author: Andrew DiMonte (NoArrow) from My House, Canada
4 January 2010

"Nine" isn't a bad movie. You might even like it - if you haven't seen Fellini's "8 1/2" in some time and don't remember too much of the story. If the original film is still fresh in your mind a lot of the passages in "Nine" will seem dull and lacking. If you're a big-time Fellini fan, or even know enough about the man's career, there's the possibility you'll leave the theater feeling insulted.

The story: famous Italian director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis of all people) is struggling to find some inspiration to write the screenplay for his next movie. The problem is he already has a producer, a star (Nicole Kidman) and a host of technicians on board, waiting for him. He's hounded by the press, his mistress (Penelope Cruz) is always showing up at the wrong times and he forgets his wife's (Marion Cotillard) birthday. Memories of his saintly mother (Sophia Loren) discourage him because he hasn't been much of a Catholic lately – as is obvious considering the above synopsis.

The film doesn't do Fellini or his fictional avatar any justice. It pretends to be about an artist's inner battle of love versus lust, but in reality it's far more interested in the bodies of the many female stars. On that level it works quite well. Penelope Cruz has a musical number so sexy it's likely to win over any straight male who gets dragged to see this. Kidman, Cotillard and Kate Hudson (as a promiscuous reporter) light up the screen simply by stepping into it. Cotillard is unequaled here, conjuring emotions where there are none while selling the sex just as well.

There's a lot of style here, good cinematography, but it's marred by countless disappointments. The songs are instantly forgettable, despite all the energy obviously put into them. There's just not enough there to work with. The choreography of the dancers is pretty bland. None of the principles are even halfway convincing as Italians, making all the film's talk about Italian culture and cinema seem pretty hypocritical. Daniel Day-Lewis is…why is he in this movie?

Did he want to pay homage to Fellini? Did he want to get to dance and sing in a gaudy musical? Was he just having a particularly generous day when he was offered the part? He should've seen he had no part in this story. He's far too focused, not nearly as preoccupied as he should be. Marcello Mastroianni, who played Guido in the original, always seemed out to sea, lost in his head. Day-Lewis is constantly holding his cards in our face, I'd almost say, "phoning it in."

But the women – oh, the women. And I haven't even mentioned Judi Dench, who has a musical number of her own. It's not any good, but she is, and that goes for just about everyone in this film. Cotillard could get an Oscar nomination, and she'd deserve it. Cruz is wonderful as usual (check her out in "Broken Embraces," also this year). Kate Hudson is surprisingly good; she hasn't been allowed to appear in a movie of any quality in how many years? I knew she was a star, I forgot she was an actress.

So if you like musicals as a genre and you're a fan of two or more of the women in this one, I guess "Nine" is worth seeing. If you're a Fellini acolyte, tread at your own risk. If you're expecting much from Day-Lewis…forget it. No passion. The film could've taken advice from one of its biggest songs: "Be Italian." 6/10

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

I was so sad

5/10
Author: ariv113 from United States
1 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Musical theatre is my life and I went into the film excited because I loved what Rob Marshall did with Chicago, there have been such awful adaptations of stage shows on film such as A Chorus Line and The Wiz and musicals just aren't done the way they were used to and having such confidence in Marshall's abilities led me to be extremely disappointed.

I thought one of the biggest problems was the Photography Direction. During the musical numbers, especially "Folies Bergeres", I was not directed to the right areas. I thought some of the wide shots should have been tighter and vice versa. A number that should have had a lot of bang felt sporadic and clumsy. Normally when you give me feathers, sequins and some high kicks I'm set for life but the entire number felt anticlimactic. A musical should make you feel something, there needs to be that visceral connection and the two times I ever felt anything were when Marion Cotillard was on screen and when Fergie sang her big note at the end of "Be Italian" Speaking of Marion Cotillard. The woman was absolutely stunning. From the first moment we see her she just exuded Luisa Contini. You hated Guido with him (maybe for his weak singing ability) and she took you on that journey with her until you were practically taking your clothes off with her in the end.

Being familiar with the source material I went in telling myself I wasn't going to sing along but as the film went on that was all that kept me entertained so I found myself singing over Nicole Kidman's just okay rendition of "Unusual way" that was transposed down way too many keys for my taste. Having seen her performance in Moulin Rouge and knowing the great actress she is, this film was a waste of her time (Hopefully the money was good). Other changes to music left me wanting more. Penelope Cruz may have the looks but that voice was lacking. Her thick accent made it difficult to understand lyrics I already knew and that is something that could have easily been dealt with. She also took optional notes by singing them lower or not holding them out as long as they were originally written.

I was pleasantly surprised with Kate Hudson singing range and dancing ability. Not once did I doubt that she was given easier choreography than the other dancer girls or think that she wasn't a musical theatre performer. Go her.

There is quite a list of things that I did enjoy in this film but overall it didn't keep my attention and didn't feel cohesive enough. I understand that when adapting a stage musical to the screen changes need to be made and things have to be modified and cut or added but considering the original musical won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1982 beating out the original production of Dreamgirls, the source material is not to blame for the film we are presented.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Page One, Page Zero

6/10
Author: David Ferguson (fergusontx@gmail.com) from Dallas, Texas
2 January 2010

Greetings again from the darkness. I am so conflicted on how to analyze the film and what to say. Being a fan of Fellini's 8 1/2, I really was hoping director Rob Marshall (Chicago) could pull it off. The cast is dazzling and deep. The question begged, would it be an homage to Fellini, the Broadway musical or go a different route altogether? After seeing the film, I still can't answer that question and that's a major problem.

The great Daniel Day-Lewis is in the key Guido role. His musical numbers lack punch, but the rest of his performance is outstanding. All of the brilliant women do the most possible with their musical numbers. Penelope Cruz is quite provocative (as the mistress), Nicole Kidman is classy as the starlet, Fergie is explosive as Guido's childhood obsession, Kate Hudson is energetic as the lusty American, Judi Dench is sage as the muse, and Sophia Loren comes off as royalty as Guido's mom.

You will note that I failed to mention Marion Cotillard. The reason is that she stands out among the others. Her first number is the key to the film and the first real emotion that we get. She is outstanding and deserves recognition that she probably won't get.

Each of the stars is just that ... a star. The film never really allows us to connect to a character. There are so many fine pieces, but the lack of cohesiveness causes this one to be a near miss as a complete film. Don't let this scare you away. If you haven't already done so, seek out Fellini's 8 1/2 .. THAT one is definitely worth your time.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

a solid showing

Author: Special-K88
2 January 2010

Lively, enjoyable musical from the director of Chicago chronicles the life of Guido Contini, an acclaimed director forced to confront his own morality while maintaining relationships with the various women in his life including his long-suffering wife (Cotillard), his vivacious mistress (Cruz), his costume designer and confidante (Dench), his bedazzling film star muse (Kidman), a flirtatious American journalist (Hudson), an alluring prostitute from his youth (Fergie), and his beloved mother (Loren), all the while trying to fend off the media while working on the script for his latest project. Surreal, flamboyant, and engaging, with good direction, excellent songs, exquisite wardrobe, and splendid casting across the board, headlined by the always potent Daniel Day-Lewis. Fergie's fiery musical number is the film's definite highpoint. ***

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Visually appealing, ultimately empty

3/10
Author: Chris_Docker from United Kingdom
7 January 2010

A short, honest review of this film might read: "A lazy, self-indulgent waste of money, skill and celluloid. Don't go and see it."

Somehow we come to expect a review to expend more column inches than that, even on the most undeserving pile of tosh. So defending the above review against anyone that might tell you otherwise, I shall proceed. Nine is about a film director that doesn't have a story. And that just about sums up the movie. Sadly, execrably, even ironically sums it up. But not 'cleverly' sums it up. There is no scintillating intellectual self-perception here. Just a lack of story. Expensively and professionally packaged.

Daniel Day-Lewis is Guido Conti, revered Italian movie-maker. He tells himself he needs to be surrounded by beautiful women to act as his 'muse.' There are expensive (and very beautiful) sets. Perfect camera angles. Exquisite lighting. But very little story – whether in the film-within-a-film or in the movie itself. As Guido plays out his fantasies with his wife, his mistress and his leading ladies, passions are presented as extravagant song-and-dance numbers.

Penelope Cruz (as his mistress) provides the largest acting role for a woman and throws herself into it with an eye-candy appeal characterised by her trademark fire and histrionics. Marion Cotillard also acquits herself well, offering a glimpse of the singing capabilities that delighted us in La Vie en Rose. Nicole Kidman pouts prettily and kisses seductively. Rather like a perfume advert. Pleasant performances also from Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, and Sophia Loren. It reminds me of a series of auditions where actresses, lighting experts, choreographers and so on, all demonstrate their impeccable skills. What is totally lacking is any semblance of a film upon which to apply them. I am not surprised my companion fell asleep before the end. There is no doubting the quality of talent. But should people really get awards for 'audition' performances? Do not actors bear some responsibility at that level, for choosing worthy vehicles? (Kidman in particular, seems to have lost all sense of direction for movies of substance, having lost the commitment to greatness wherein her 'Tom Cruise' period saw her achieve the title, greatest actress of our generation.)

Any analysis of why the 'muse' theory failed is backshelved for a whimsical kowtowing to the sacrament of marriage, providing the most miserable subtext imaginable. For a true example of 'muse,' the channelling of artistic inspiration, one only needs to look at the much healthier example of Cruz and Almodovar – two artists that spark off each other as equals in their respective fields. Nine is no paean to womanhood. It extols the sleazy open-crotch of temptation, then castigates us and says the only redemption is through marriage. The afterthought ending follows the usual formula of, be a 'good' (ie god-fearing) person, and somehow everything will turn out happily in the end. Irrespective of talent, reality and everything that has gone before. The Disney salvation that is drip-fed to keep the modern masses in a state of servile beliefhood.

It's traditional to say some nice things about even the most garbage of Oscar-bait movies, so I will try. Director Rob Marshall has put together a winning package. As with the visually appealing Chicago, or the deceitful Memoirs of a Geisha, the Weinstein Money is safe in his hands. And, while you might see a superior display of terpsichorean skills on Strictly Come Dancing, you do at least see proper celebrities here instead of people trying to make a come-back. As musicals go (ie films where the songs are not very catchy), the tunes are not bad. I preferred many of them to say, the endless ditties of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. But it is still a collection of goodies sans a point. It saddens me that people of the calibre of Penelope Cruz put their name to films like this. While she might unite with Almodovar on a string of reputable hits, the only union on this one is a paycheck dangled from a g-string. The title – never explained – involves references to the life of the great Italian director, Fellini. While it might have worked more honestly on stage, here its reference to a great artist seems almost obscene.

I can think of many ways you could better spend an evening than watching this movie. But I can recommend the trailer. It includes all the best bits. And, unlike the film, is mercifully short.

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

i wished it was better

5/10
Author: kaitlin from nashville, usa
25 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Nine- well for starters I would like to say all of the actors did very well with the parts they were given, but the film was confused and did not contain a focused point.

DDL is great as Guido. He is extremely believable as a middle aged man battling with his conscience and the immoral life he leads. DDL evokes the emotion of Giudo so well that I personally was left feeling confused and a little depressed for an hour or two after the movie ended (though I loved every minute of it).

The women in nine were also pretty impressive. Marion Cotillard has a wonderful voice and draws you in. Fergie is not my favorite singer, but I have to admit in her small yet significant bit she is phenomenal. I feel exactly the same why about Kate Hudson. Her rendition of a retro pop song that depicts Italian life in the 60's was very enjoyable. Nicloe Kidman is not unimpressive, but she does not do much for the film. Penelope Cruz is a great actress, but i absolutely hated her character. Judy Dench was good. Everyone else is forgettable.

I like many others wanted it to be better then it actually was. Even though the actors did a good job, the directing and editing was unforgivable.

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4 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Let this be the death of them.

1/10
Author: Bones Eijnar (namriggs@hotmail.com) from Trondheim, Norway
8 February 2010

I sat down to eat, but quickly noticed that my taste buds were gone. I now recalled NINE, Rob Marshall's romantic musical based on the book for the 1982 musical of the same name, which again is based on Federico Fellini's unique masterpiece 8 1/2, and it all became clearly. Marshall's flub had made my soul and body slowly expire, and my emotions were going with it. NINE is one of the grand proofs of American cinema a 2010 owing nothing to artistic integrity, and having its heart solely in its wallet. I hope Hollywood's endless remakes of European and Japanese cinema becomes the death of them.

Listen to the great irony of Daniel Day-Lewis' character confessing that if you make one wrong choice in your career, it's all downhill from there. Or when Judi Dench sings that she wants to give the audience laughter, music and dance - fulfilling all the expectations the film doesn't. Or the terribly boring songs with gruesome lyrics such as Marion Cotillard's "My Husband Makes Movies" - or Kate Hudson (Kate Hudson!!) loving Italian cinema in ways that makes me want to cry. Let's hope Daniel Day-Lewis executes his promise in 2007's THERE WILL BE BLOOD...

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