Dean has PTSD after a wet-job gone bad in Bosnia. Waiting for his police girlfriend at a diner, some bad guys inject him with a hallucinogen. It sends him back to traumatic experiences in Bosnia and he reacts violently.
Based on the Michael Kearns' play 'Complications', NINE LIVES introduces a sequence of the lives of nine men who are interconnected by the fact they are all participants in the roundelay of casual sexual encounters. The technique used is that of each actor speaking to the audience about his background and how each ended up in the rather sad state of living in which they find themselves. The stories are interesting if a bit repetitive (parental abuse of both the verbal and physical type, the agonies of 'coming out'. and the specter of AIDS), but the script keeps the conversations mixed well with actual encounters so that we the audience are less confessional listeners so much as participants in the results of living life on the edge.
The cast is uniformly fine, a factor that keeps the film afloat in many instances. Particularly fine is Steve Callahan ('East Side Story') who seems to have a promising career. Director Dean Howell (who also wrote the screenplay) is another solid actor as are Eric Turic, William Christian, John Ganun, Dennis Christopher, Nick Salamone, Debra Wilson - well, the entire cast. The direction is tight and flows well from 'life to life', using sexual scenes where indicated, and keeping the focus on the darker side of the round of confessions. The cinematography by Mark A. Ryan keeps the look dark and coarse and a bit too much on the dreary side. The makeup artist Shari Balbien is none too kind to the actors' looks. Made in 2004 the film holds up well as far as content, a sad statement about the slow progress in the struggle against HIV infection. Grady Harp
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