Usually, I would say that I have unequivocal love toward musicals. However, “Nine,” despite being a musical and has a couple great musical pieces wasn’t even close to being one of my favorite or my most praised musical film I’ve seen recently.
“Nine” follows a known Italian director, Guido Contini (marvelously played by Daniel Day-Lewis) as he tries to recover from his declining quality in making films by trying to made and release his ninth efforts. He plans to bring along his long time muse, Claudia (Nicole Kidman). However, he suffers a writer’s block and the film grinds almost (and eventually) to a halt. As he tries to find solace and inspiration to continue, from his mistress (Penelope Cruz), from his long-suffered wife (Marion Cotillard), from his crew, represented by his costume and make-up designer (Judi Dench), the film moves on with an occasional song and dance routine to push the plot forward.
The reason of why I didn’t really favors this film is because perhaps I found the lack of screen presence that could make me actually care is almost naught. This, despite big names, almost all of them were recognizable. Daniel Day-Lewis was great as Guido, I mean, honestly, I can’t remember Day-Lewis being not great. Even so, I cannot love him, although to be fair, the film didn’t want you to. The closest figure that I could rooted for was Guido’s Wife, Luisa but her screen presence wasn’t long enough to imprint a lasting impression.
That was the problem, *my* problem with this film. This film suffers the problem of being too ambitious and being too many stars crowded in, each strives for a spotlight that unfortunately never stays long enough to shine through the figure before it switched on and left me tries to cope with a new spotlight. Say what you will, but I personally think that in a film, a single spotlight, or few, each of which shines long enough to soak in, is mostly responsible to make a particular film more enjoyable. Thus, too many spotlights, for me, is more of a distraction that left me disconnected for most of the film.
By my count, there are at least nine sing and dance sequences in this film. One for each of the prominent characters, and two for Day-Lewis and Cotillard character. My favorite scene on the film is, by far, “Be Italian” as performed by Fergie. I’ve seen the routine first in an episode of “Dancing with the Stars,” and the repeat viewings is still a pleasure. Further, I felt that the song fits more into the overall ambience of the film than most of other songs which at its worst (Kate Hudson’s part) felt a bit forced and simply exist to allow her to sing and dance. I also love Cotillard’s last song, it was full of anger and appropriate to provide a full closure to her character. Lyrically and plot-wise, it was the best song of the film. And that’s it. I love musicals, and I still do, but you obviously won’t enjoy musicals at its best without the merit of its plot as well.
Oh yeah, the film was rated PG-13, although some scenes are dangerously treading into an adult territory. I was of course, talked about Penelope Cruz’ steamy song and dance sequence.
My rating: **1/2 / **** A bit too long, with song sequences that most of them doesn’t blend as seamless as I’d preferred with the plot, and the lack of prominent screen-figure to anchored your attention, or to root for. However, I would love to see *only* the song and dance sequences again.
P.S: A subtitle during musical sequence in a musical film is distracting.