Though Moulin Rouge showed that musicals could be cool again, it was Rob Marshall's 2002 Oscar winner Chicago that proved they could be critical and financial successes, too. In other words, Marshall is largely responsible for the wave of hit musicals that have hit been released over the last decade, and he's back with another star-studded adaptation with Nine.
Nine stars - brace yourself - Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren and Fergie, among others. The cast is just ridiculous. Do you know how many Oscars are represented in that group? Yeah, I can't count that high, either.
So, with the all-star cast and director of Chicago powering the latest movie aiming for Oscar glory, it's all the more disappointing when you realize just how bland Nine is.
Inspired by filmmaker Federico Fellini's autobiographical film and, of course, based on the Broadway plan, Nine follows director Guido Contini as he attempts to work out his women issues while grappling to find inspiration for his next movie, which is to begin filming in a matter of days. While he loves his wife (Cotillard), he has all but driven her away with a series of affairs, most notably with Carla, played by Penelope Cruz.
Unfortunately, the plot's pretty boring. And only one of the songs is memorable. And the film is generally unremarkable.
Nine looks good, but it still feels like Marshall mailed this one in. Compared to Chicago, the musical sequences are uninspired and cluttered; they lack the charisma and flair that a production like this needs.
I haven't seen the play, and now have little motivation to ever see it. Though Marshall, of course, deserves blame, I don't see the adaptation ever working as a movie. The story is shockingly uninteresting, but more importantly the musical aspects of the production are terrible. The one memorable song - which is sung by Fergie, who I despise - can be seen on the Internet, while the rest range from chaotic to downright forgettable. A musical without good music doesn't really stand a chance.
The movie's saving grace is its acting. Day-Lewis, as always, is excellent; while his character is overshadowed by the scattered production, his performance is still among the year's best (though, admittedly, compared to his other recent roles, this one isn't nearly as substantive). Cotillard, Dench and Cruz all deliver fine performances as well.
Unfortunately, the acting can't save this Weinstein movie. Nine suffers from several problems, most notably poor source material. It's not a disaster by any means, but there is no compelling reason to see it, either.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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