You’d think that casting a slew of hot, exotic female actresses along with Daniel Day-Lewis in a big screen adaptation of a hit Broadway musical (itself based on the classic Fellini film 8 1/2) would be a winner. Not so with Nine. It’s a boring, sloppy, headache-inducing disaster that doesn’t even offer up a memorable song to take away.
Struggling to come up with an idea for his next film, Italian movie director Guido Contini (Day-Lewis) looks to all the women in his life for inspiration. His mistress Carla (Penélope Cruz), wife Luisa (Marion Cottillard), muse Claudia (Nicole Kidman), mother (Sophia Loren), and friend Lilli (Judi Dench) all leave him empty and distraught. He dreams about his childhood crush Saraghina (Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas) and Vanity Fair reporter Stephanie (Kate Hudson) but is left blank. His film career and personal life eventually crash and Contini disappears from the spotlight.
The biggest problem I found with Nine was Day-Lewis. He was horribly miscast as Contini and doesn’t look comfortable in the role (which could be his worst to date). The actresses are all over the place too, although the always-amazing Cottillard and Dench give the best performances out of the bunch. They’re genuine while Kidman is completely cold and lifeless, Hudson is plain and boring, and Cruz is frumpy and annoying. Fergie is so hideous she’s barely recognizable, but at least she can sing (don’t even get me started on Hudson singing).
Since it was directed by Rob Marshall (who helmed the Chicago adaptation), I expected the musical numbers would at least grab me and wow me. Sadly, they disappoint and are injected in odd moments throughout that disjoint the entire flow of the movie. Instead of it clicking with the audience, I found I couldn’t wait for them to end. If there is any praise to give the film, it would be that it looks nice. Unfortunately that’s not enough to justify sitting through it and wasting your time.
If you liked the Broadway musical it’s based on, you’ll possibly get something more out of the movie. If you’re looking for a brilliant film, I recommend saving the money you’d spend on this and pick up the Criterion release of 8 1/2.
** out of 5 stars