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| 19 July 2018 | Reply

Shock Entertainment, June 2018
Directed by Rob Marshall
Starring Daniel Day Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Based on the popular Broadway show by Mario Fratti (translated into English by Arthur Kopit and Maury Weston), Rob Marshall aims very high to bring this tale of a dysfunctionally unhappy Italian movie maker to life on celluloid, but ultimately fails.

Daniel Day Lewis plays Guido Contini, a film maker whose life has unravelled, leaving him unhappy and uninspired on the eve of starting to film his as-yet-unwritten next opus.

The women in Contini’s life are at the heart of his story – whilst his unhappiness is purely down to his own hedonistic indulgences.

Enlisting the unmatchable Sophia Loren as Contini’s mother is a masterstroke, while Marion Cotillard is irresistible as his forsaken wife. Pop star Fergie puts in a sexy performance as the town whore who teaches Contini and his childhood friends about sex (in a PG fashion here, all implied and none acted upon), Kate Hudson the reporter trying to catch his eye, and Penelope Cruz his mistress.

Nicole Kidman appears as the star of Contini’s movie – his muse, but a muse who has decided to move on from her director’s problematic orbit, and Judi Dench is subtly understated as his wardrobe supervisor.

The women in Nine often seem here more for window dressing and style than any kind of substance, and the glamour budget undoubtedly took the lion’s share of the cost of the film. Marshall comes to Nine flushed with the success of Chicago, but fails to recreate that here – throughout the movie we can’t help but say to each other more than once, “I like what he’s tried to do here… it’s a shame he didn’t manage it.”

Whilst the movie’s shortcomings aren’t through any obvious lack of trying, they do make the end result very one dimensional. There simply isn’t enough charm or compassion for the characters to make us want any of them to succeed: Day Lewis is no singer, and Contini is a spoilt child-man; the women (even Cotillard’s wife) are all a bit pathetic, so we’re left with two hours of wafer-thin plot and no hero to cheer for.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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