Like many similar films, '9 Songs' started as a film festival project. It was featured at Sundance, the Toronto Festival and also at San Sebastian where it was an award winner. It then received a limited general circulation on the strength of its festival record, but its backers probably recognised from the start that its greatest returns should come from DVD sales, a situation which often makes it hard to decide whether the theatrical release or the Director's Cut DVD should be regarded as the definitive version. Whilst the latter is usually sexually more graphic, the greater differences in this case appear to be regionally based.
The storm began when Michael Winterbottom, the Director, went on record as wishing to blur or break the distinction between softcore and hardcore sex which is currently maintained by the mainstream movie industry. I have strong reservations about this. Films are created by actors trained to simulate every kind of activity and emotion. There seems no reason why the simulation of sexual activity should necessarily be any less satisfactory for a normal audience than its actual performance.. An actor is never going to be asked to kill or wound his colleagues, we readily accept that when this appears to take place it is simulated. Today the same is true even of sequences involving the apparent death of animals, and there is no reason why it should not also be true of explicit sexual activities. However I watched the unrated Canadian version of the DVD which runs for five minutes less than at least one of the versions referred to in other IMDb user reviews, and did not include some sequences IMDb viewers in Europe have discussed. It contained nothing that I have not also seen in many other mainstream films. Those who are uncomfortable with any nudity or any simulation of sexual activity will of course choose to give this DVD a miss - others need feel no concern. The film is a serious attempt to take a realistic look at one of the problems associated with the society in which we live today, and in my view drawing attention to such problems can do nothing but good. My version of the DVD made no implicit attempt to preach to us - it simply presented an entertaining and well made story which brought out some of the problems inherent in our present day lifestyles.
Basic requirements for viewer enjoyment are fully satisfied. The film-script is largely believable; the cinematography is competently done (some of the sequences featuring Antarctica are alone sufficient to justify watching the film); the acting, particularly by the young couple who carry most of the acting burden right through the entire film, was, I felt, remarkably natural; and the all important rock music sound track (which I am too deaf to assess for myself) has been commended by many others. This film is not intended to be a tearjerker, the couple concerned knew the implications of the situation in which they found themselves and got as much pleasure and satisfaction out of their brief romance as they could possibly have expected. But many older viewers who have been blessed with lifelong supportive relationships starting at a similar stage in their own lives, will probably look back over their own good fortune, and may even experience a hint of damp eyes from sympathy with the dilemma faced by the couple portrayed here.
Unfortunately however, whilst remaining an enjoyable movie, '9 Songs' was too documentary in style and too short to enable its principal characters to become adequately developed, a problem that also led to unacceptably frequent and over-abrupt switches from domestic bliss to frenzied rock concerts - filmed in totally incompatible ways. I first intended to give '9 Songs' an IMDb rating of 6, but I unexpectedly found the film quite hard to forget - not because of any of the controversial sexual sequences, but because of its treatment of an affair that circumstances would never allow to become a romance. This aspect of the film has had little discussion here, but because of it I am raising my rating to 7.