Golly I love a good musical, and even though it got pretty mixed reviews I found Nine enjoyable enough to purchase my own DVD copy. If that’s not high praise, I don’t know what is! Not only is there singing and dancing and glitz and glamour and sequins and vespers, but it literally has almost everybody from the acting world in it too. Daniel Day-Lewis plays a film director who’s struggling to make his next movie and turns to the various women in his life for inspiration – his wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his (dead) mother (Sophia Loren), his leading lady (Nicole Kidman), his costume designer and friend (Judi Dench), a sassy young reporter (Kate Hudson), and the whore he remembers from his Catholic school childhood (Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas). They each have a little song or two and they all (well mostly, I’m looking at you here Sophia, don’t let the side down!) manage to sing it well, which was a little surprising in some cases, I must admit. I would obviously expect Marion, Nicole and Fergie to pull it off given their musical history, but even Dame Dench gives it a go, while brandishing what is quite possibly the longest feather boa to have ever graced a cinema screen. What a treat! Fergie’s belter Be Italian is definitely the catchiest song and is quite the Cell Block Tango of Nine with lots of dancers clad in lingerie giving a few high kicks and rattling their tambourines, and Penelope Cruz also has a rather raunchy number where she slides down a curtain in her underwear (it’s more glamorous than it sounds). But for actual singing quality I think the thumbs up ultimately have to go to Marion Cotillard, who I’ve decided is pretty much the French Audrey Hepburn because she’s always so damn classy.
Okay, so the story’s a little light and rather sexed up, but we are dealing with the people responsible for Chicago here who have clearly stuck with what they believe to be their winning formula: the bigger the musical number, the skimpier the dancers’ outfits. (Happily this does not apply to Judi or Sophia Loren). Sadly it just doesn’t quite pack the punch of Chicago though, and cramming it to the rafters with big names doesn’t prevent it from still falling a bit short on the storyline front. It’s basically two hours of Daniel Day-Lewis lusting after scantily clad women while wallowing in self pity and driving everyone away due to his selfishness and moping, but there are some lovely costumes and I do enjoy most films which happen to contain a passing vesper. I can’t be certain as I haven’t seen the stage version, but I suspect it just hasn’t translated as well as was hoped from a theatrical to a film production. I always enjoy it anyway though, and it has a couple of really cracking songs in it, which is pretty much my only requirement for a musical to be honest. If you’re as easy to please as I am, and as big a fan of musicals and vespers, then this is probably the light-hearted film for you.
See previous Film Review, featuring Madagascar.