NINE, based on the Broadway musical of the same title, is set in stylish 1965 Rome and follows the story of an unraveling, worn, exhausted director, Guido “Maestro” Contini, (Daniel Day-Lewis) and the women who consume him. With ten days left to pen a movie script before filming begins he is confused, mixing the movies he creates, his real life, his past and present into a madness that pushes him to escape Rome not knowing where he is running to or what he is running from, essentially running from himself. Rob Marshall does a fantastic job directing this film and the a-list ensemble cast. The costuming, sets, bright bold colors blended with gritty black and white clips are all in your face brilliant. I love each musical number, especially the solo performances of Day-Lewis and Cotillard and was blown away with Fergie’s Be Italian number. WOW.
NINE features a variety of incredible actresses: Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, Fergie, Penélope Cruz and Marion Cotillard; all key players to Guido’s emotional rollercoaster. Forgive me as I touch on each of the actresses, but I feel it important to say something about each; their performances were remarkable in their own way. Though we don’t see much of her, the times we are graced with Kidman’s presence are welcome. I wish we could see more of her as Claudia Jenson, actress and Guido’s muse. As a loyal friend who knows all of Guido’s faults, Lilli (Dench) is fantastic! She accepts him yet tries in her own subtle way to help him, acting as a sounding block and confidant. The iconic Sophia Loren is Guido’s mother who has passed but shows up throughout the film as someone Guido talks to for advice, to express his guilt and looks to for guidance. The flashy costumes and bold songs by Hudson and Fergie are the most fun as far as the musical numbers are concerned. Guido’s married mistress, Cruz, is incredible. She does it all, sings, dances and is funny, absent-minded, and tragic. Her love for Guido, and her husband, Luigi, is heartbreaking. Finally, as Guido’s dutiful wife, Cotillard’s performance is wrought with emotion but effortlessly played. It is easy to see that Guido loves each of the above mentioned women, in his own cruel way, but does not fully commit to just one. Daniel Day-Lewis is magnificent, oozing style and cool in his black suits, sunglasses and cigarettes. Without a word you know how he feels just from looking at him. Day-Lewis is an impressive actor in all his works, NINE is no exception. Though each performance was done to perfection, the storyline itself didn’t do much for me.
This is a visually stunning, beautiful movie with powerful music and enchanting performances by each character.
Video: The video quality of the bold and vibrant colors and gritty black and white scenes, sets and costumes all looked great.
Audio: The sound, an important part of any musical, was clear and pitch perfect.
Commentary with Director Rob Marshall and Producer John Deluca: The two don’t add much light to the making of the movie or specific scenes or how they were shot. Not a terrible commentary but nothing outstanding.
The Incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis (5:06): The director, producer and cast discuss how great Daniel Day-Lewis is as a person and an actor.
The Women of NINE (10:46): Interviews with each of the seven women leads and we learn that they were cast before the script was written.
Director Rob Marshall (6:26): The producer and cast discuss how great it is to work with Rob Marshall. We learn how involved and talented he is as a dancer, choreographer and director. (Rob Marshall shows us he can still work the dance floor 1 of 5)
Behind the Look of NINE (8:18): Typical behind the scenes where set design, costumes, musical numbers, choreography and talent are addressed. I fell asleep during this and had to re-watch it.
Dancers of Nine (4:39): Interviews with the dancers, a glimpse at their auditions and Rob Marshall discussing choreography. (Rob Marshall shows us he can still work the dance floor 2 of 5)
The Choreography of ‘Be Italian’ (4:16): Fergie is excited to have such an extensive rehearsal schedule since she doesn’t get this with the Peas. Rob Marshall and the set designers add their two cents. (Rob Marshall shows us he can still work the dance floor 3 of 5)
Making of ‘Cinema Italiano’ (2:53): Kate Hudson discusses the complexity of the song; how she was pushed to sing this song and that she is a song writer too but only writes sad songs, nothing this upbeat. (Rob Marshal shows us he can still work the dance floor 4 of 5)
The Choreography of ‘Cinema Italiano’ (8:36): Rob Marshall explains the creation of the song, rehearsal time, how of a worker Kate Hudson is. (Rob Marshall shows us he can still work the dance floor 5 of 5)
Sophia Loren Remembers Cinecitta Studios (12:45): Sophia Loren shares a story of her debut as an actress and her first studio interview as well as other great moments she remembers from working with Italian directors.
Screen Actors Guild Q&A (43:14): Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard are interviewed. Fergie and Sophia Loren are absent. Kate Hudson seems bored throughout the interviews except when she is talking. Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench and Nicole Kidman are charming throughout their interviews. Daniel Day-Lewis has some funny moments too. Ultimately, this interview is a basic repeat of the interviews during the Women of NINE featurette. This feature has a weird static and echo sound, that of a press conference.
Music Videos: These are basic music videos for ‘Cinema Italiano’ featuring Kate Hudson, ‘Take It All’ featuring Marion Cotillard, and ‘Unusual Way’ featuring Griffith Frank.