A serious amount of talent went into this musical (directed by Chicago’s Rob Marshall), we have Daniel Day-Lewis as our lead and he is supported by the likes of Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, and Fergie. That’s one hell of a cast; it’s just a pity that it all amounts to very little. There are no bad performances given, and in fact Daniel Day-Lewis and Marion Cotillard do particularly good work here, and yet the collected effort of all of these people still somehow fails to entertain. Perhaps it’s because it contains only one memorable song; ‘Be Italian’ which is sung by Fergie, or possibly two if you consider Cotillard’s ‘My Husband Makes Movies’. But regardless of that there is an even more fundamental problem with Nine; it simply doesn’t work as an involving, or coherent film.
It very clearly draws from Fellini’s body of work; most obviously 8 ½ which inspired the stage show which this in an adaptation of, but there are also touches of La Dolce Vita present here. Unlike Fellini’s film about Guido Anselmi – a director who is overwhelmed by the demands of his next film and his personal life, Nine’s Guido Contini leads us through a slightly chaotic and distanced experience about the same subject matter, it doesn’t hold our interest as a film about film, and its love story winds up leaving us cold.
It’s a shame that Nine falls apart the way that it does. I really wanted to like this despite its poor reviews, and although there were some moments and performances which momentarily held my attention, the rest of the time I was just regularly checking the clock. This film is about a man who isn’t in full control of his film, and it may be just a little too self-referential there for its own good.