Nine (Rob Marshall, 2009): USA

Reviewed by Kathleen Amboy.  Viewed at the Riviera Theater in Santa Barbara.

  There once was a film titled 8 1/2, which then inspired a play, which became a Broadway musical, then a book, and voila a film titled Nine.  It is loosely based on an episode in the life of Italian director Federico Fellini. 

Film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is turning fifty, and about ready to crash and burn from his midlife crisis.  He is surrounded by a string of women such as  his wife, mother, mistress, mentor and even former loves.  He looks to each one for comfort or inspiration, either physically or through his imagination and flashbacks, but none of which can help him.

Contini is an egoist who has thrived in his world of film fantasy for the purpose of creating art, but now the well has run dry.  He looks to the various women in his life for answers, since filming is soon to begin on his next project, but alas, there is no project to speak of.

In desperation, Guido turns to his much under-appreciated wife Luisa (played brilliantly by Marion Cotillard) for her professional help, and against her better judgment she agrees, only to discover her private life has been played out on a screen for all to witness.

Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Dame Judi Dench, Fergie and Sophia Loren portray the various women in Contini’s life, with a dance number performed by Kate Hudson that is highly reminiscent of Goldie Hawn.  Daniel Day-Lewis manages to pull it off as the self-destructive Contini, but the one to watch in this fast-paced extravaganza is undeniably Marion Cotillard, who is simply outstanding as the long suffering wife – turned vixen in her musical vignette.

You will remember Rob Marshall as the director of Chicago (2002), but the highly-charged Nine, is nine times more fun to watch!

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