Release date: December 18, 2009
Director: Rob Marshall
Broadway musical by: Mario Fratti (Italian original), Arthur Kopit, Maury Yeston
Screenplay by: Michael Tolkin, Anthony Minghella
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson
Based on the musical of the same name, which is in itself based on the semi-autobiographical film 8 ½ by Federico Fellini, Nine tells the story of Guido Contini (Day-Lewis), a successful film director facing a midlife crisis while leading a complicated romantic life and dealing with his relationships with different women, including his wife Luisa (Cotillard), his mistress Carla (Cruz), his muse Claudia Jensen (Kidman), his constume designer confidante Lilli (Dench), his deceased mother (Loren), the memory of a prostitute from his youth (Fergie) and an American fashion journalist (Hudson).
Add to that lush musical numbers, great looking sets, and the star power of Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench and screen legend Sophia Loren, and I’m sold. Right? Well, it’s more complicated than that. For example, those lush musical numbers went back and forth with the actors in the present, and you could end up in a flashback. It didn’t work for me at all.
It’s not like the film is bad, it just didn’t live up to anyone’s expectations. I am one of the few people left that actually enjoys Nicole Kidman on the screen, but I certainly didn’t see her character adding anything to the table. I also could have done without Kate Hudson. It was surprising to not find Fergie as bad as I thought she could have been. She wasn’t anything extraordinary, but her prostitute character added more to the story than Kidman’s or Hudson’s did.
While I have nothing to complain about Day-Lewis, Dench and Loren’s interpretations, Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz were my favorites. One as the wife of a selfish cheating husband, and the other as his lover. Their interactions with Guido were exquisite, as they built the tension for their fleeting encounter with each other at the restaurant. And man, that luscious number for Take it All.