Dir: Rob Marshall

Rating: 1.5/5.0

The Weinstein Company

118 Minutes

8 ½ reasons not to see Nine.

It’s not 8 ½ Although I promised myself to disallow any comparisons between Nine and its source material, Federico Fellini’s 1963 semi-autobiographical, fantastical musing on writer’s block and the creative process, Nine cannot help but be a limp facsimile of a film that is so full of life and brio. Imagine your favorite meal and then imagine a McDonald’s version of it. You get my drift.

Rob Marshall- Despite a Best Picture Oscar win for Chicago, director Marshall puts a stamp of mediocrity on every film he touches. Nine follows the water-downed procession of Chicago and Memoirs of Geisha where the “foreignness” of Italy is just as cliché as Geisha’s Japan and glitz stands in for substance just like Chicago.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall- Inane lyrics aside, Daniel Day Lewis’ Guido Contini sings in a faux-Italian accent that sounds just like Jason Segel’s Count Dracula in the aforementioned comedy. But it’s not supposed to be funny.

The Bore Factor- Speaking of vampires, the joie de vivre and fear of living that propels 8 ½ is nowhere to be found in Nine. Instead, the 118 minute runtime is a slog and when stars such as Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Marion Cotillard and Sophia Loren do turn up, it is impossible to take them seriously in parts that are underwritten and poorly shot as they are no more than one dimensional representations of Guido’s feminine hang-ups.

Kate Hudson and Fergie- Name one movie that features Kate Hudson that is actually good, and I don’t want to hear Almost Famous. Hudson plus “My Humps” equals mediocrity. It is also impossible to replace Edra Gale’s Saraghina.

Italy- Sure, there are some gorgeous shots of Italy, but this production is as American as grilled cheese. Where is the passion and sex for which Italy is notorious? Cruz sizzles a little but the only lecherous thing on the screen is Marshall’s camera which goes for butt and boob close-ups with the same leering, furtive snatches as an American boy sneaking a peak while jerking off. Give us some red-blooded Italian lust here.

The Songs- Unlike most musicals where characters just burst into song, the music in Nine exists in some parallel universe that may or may not be in Guido’s head. That’s cheating. And the music isn’t even interesting. One of the songs is called “Be Italian” for Pete’s sake!

The Passion- For a movie about passion, Nine has none. Instead, a superficial gloss glistens on the film’s celluloid surface. Rather than focus on Guido’s creative angst, Nine is more interested in the time and place. While it begins as a loving homage to its source material, Nine quickly shows its shallow, reductive hand where being cool and being Italian is more pressing than the deadly agony of an artist besieged not only by creditors, studio hacks and producers but his inner demons and inability to relate to women. When the film finally crawls to its finale, we don’t get the gleeful circus act ending of 8 ½ but a solemn, obvious ode to nothing.

The Economy- We’re all broke right? Save your $10.

by David Harris
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