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Friday, January 1, 2010

NINE

By D.E.Levine

Director: Rob Marshall
Writers: Michael Tolkin and Anthony Minghella (screenplay; Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston (Broadway Musical "Nine"; Mario Fratti (Italian version, Broadway Musical "Nine")
Producers: John DeLuca, Rob Marshall, Marc Platt and Harvey Weinstein
Executive Producers: Michael Dreyer, Gina Gardini (Italy), Ryan Kavanaugh, Arthur L. Kopit, Tucker Tooley and Maury Yeston
Production Excutive: Michael Cole
Supervising Producer: Steven Squillante
Associate Producers: Jodi Hurwitz and Michael Zimmer
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, Stacey Ferguson, Ricky Tognazzi, Giuseppe Cederna, Elio Germano, Andrea Di Stefano, Roberto Nobile et al.
Original Music: Andrea Guerra
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Country of Origin:
Language: English and Italian
Genre: Musical, Drama, Romance

Another mega-musical directed by Rob Marshall, Nine focuses on womanizer and director Guido Contini. Having been deserted by his muse, Guido is haunted by memories of the past and present women in his life.

All of his female relationships, the women who have served as his inspiration, appear to be draining Guido without realizing it. His women are constantly pawing at him, demanding his time and attention and requesting favors.

Faced with a movie shoot starting the following week and no script to shoot from, Guido has a meltdown.

The film focuses on Guido's imagination and memory, the songs delineate character instead of serving the plot.

While there is some beautiful cinematography in Italy as Guido changes locations, most of the musical numbers take place on the faux Coliseum set at his studio. The set is backed by scenery erected for his new, still unwritten film.

The female characters all sing on the set (they are actually singing in Guido's mind). While his wife is given two songs, each of the other women perform one song.

When Marshall put together this adaptation he eliminated large chunks of the original score. Instead, and Marshall admits this during interviews, he used the original 1963 Fellini "8 1/2" autobiographical story about film-making on which to base the current film.

While the adventure is happening in Guido's life, Marshall's story let's us see it's also happening in his mind.

Visually stunning cinematography that combines color with black and white, studio production level shots with handheld moments.

Once again Daniel Day-Lewis astounds us with a performance of a charming man who doesn't know his own mind and is unable to make choices. While he loves his wife he constantly betrays her with his mistress. He also is haunted by and may or may not be in love with his muse.

He's haunted by his late mother and memories of a local prostitute he knew as a boy. He dallies with a reporter and seeks continual consul from his wardrobe designer (a former Folie Begeres performer).

While he visits with each of these women or their memories in the hope they will inspire the creativity needed for his new movie, instead each drain him a bit more. Guido is unable to see his own flaws and make any changes in himself and his behavior.

The rest of the cast gives strong performances but something is definitely lacking in this film. Nine is as much a of nightmare as it is a musical. The music just isn't that good. While the musical numbers are staged elaborately, they seem as artificial as the scenery.

Obviously, due to the cast and the production staff, this film will draw large audiences and probably garner many nominations. Overall though, it is "8 1/2" with music added rather than a real musical celebration or a remake of either the original or revival productions of the original theater musical.