★ ★ ☆ ☆
Nine set out to combine an homage to Frederico Fellini with a dazzling musical. It accomplished neither. It is not 8 1/2, and it is not Chicago. At best, it is an elaborate ode to the glamour of 1960s Italy. At worst, it is a lavish, self indulgent tribute to Hollywood. Either way, it was a major disapointment.
Unlike Rob Marshall's previous musical, Chicago, Nine fell completely flat. The musical numbers were awkward, and monotonous. Kate Hudson's number was outright terrible. The only one that was even passable was from Marion Cotillard. Cotillard was one of the few bright spots in this otherwise mundane film. Coming off a well deserved Oscar for La Vie En Rose, Cotillard proved once again that she is one of the most skilled actresses around. This is the first movie I've ever seen where Daniel Day Lewis was actually a sore spot. Not only did he not capture the tortured film director, but his accent and mannerisms were downright annoying. He came off as more of an Italian stereotype than an actual Italian. If there was one thing I expected from Nine, it's decent acting. It seems even the otherwise stellar cast couldn't bring the uninspired story to life.
As bad a film as Nine was, the one almost saving grace was the cinematography. The interplay between light and darkness suggested the emotions that Daniel Day Lewis was supposed to conjure up. Shifting between colour and black and white was extremely effective in creating the feeling of a modernized period piece. Using several prominent backdrops from Fellini's film career helped to capture this feel, though the tiresome dialogue never ceased to ruin the effect. While Fellini's films were always subtle and indirect, Nine was quite the opposite. Rather than an ode to Fellini, the movie seemed to be a Hollywood tribute to how damn cool 1960s Italy was. I have the feeling that there is a pretty good tourism commercial buried under the rubble of this 118 minute disaster.
Unless you are extremely interested in fashion (which I am not), I can't see any reason to subject yourself to Nine. If you want to see a great modern mockumentary, pick up a copy of Adaptation. If you want to see another musical of Chicago caliber, I'd recommend Sweeny Todd. If you want to see a combination of the two, I'm afraid you'll just have to wait.