Struggling to find a way to produce a script for his next film, director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) begins to have musical fantasies involving all of the women in his life. Nine is a film based on the 1982 musical of the same name.
Contini is a married man who is known for having affairs with many of his actresses. Doing everything he can to avoid those asking questions about his unfinished movie (press, actors, etc.), he seeks solace in the arms of his mistress, Carla (Penelope Cruz). While out with his friends, Contini’s wife, Luisa (Marion Cotillard), makes a surprise appearance. At the same time, Carla decides to make an unannounced visit and when Luisa spies her, she leaves. Once Contini realizes why his wife left, he banishes Carla and she takes extreme measures as she copes with her grief.
On top of the stress Contini is experiencing, he has random conversations with his dead mother (Sophia Loren). He also has the friendship of his costume designer, Lilli (Judi Dench), to keep him functioning. Just when Contini begins to drink his sorrows away, he comes upon an American journalist (Kate Hudson) who has an infatuation for the director. Before he can do another thing he’ll regret, he leaves and tries to, once again, salvage his marriage.
Contini’s film can’t be delayed any longer once the lead actress shows up to work. Claudia (Nicole Kidman) is his leading lady and muse, but says she will not work without seeing a script first. As he tries to change the subject to how wonderful she is in order to get off the script topic, Claudia makes a decision about her involvement with the film and with the filmmaker himself.
Let me start with the good in this movie. It was shot beautifully; the transitions from black and white to color brought an added dimension to the film. It was a great tool to indicate the present time from the past or the fantasies. Fergie, who played Saraghina, was probably one of my favorite actresses in this and the last thing I saw her “act” in was Kids Incorporated on the Disney Channel in the 1980?s. Her voice was the strongest in the cast and I saw her as her character and not an actress playing someone. Cruz was pretty incredible as well and her Oscar nomination was well deserved for her part in this film. Most of the acting is without complaint from me, but I wasn’t as impressed with Hudson’s part. Her musical number was great, which I’ll get to in a minute, it was her acting I wasn’t a fan of.
The fantasies that Guido had were elaborate song and dance numbers, but only two or three of them brought out any excitement in me. Fergie and Hudson’s numbers were strong and exciting in their own ways – Fergie’s gave me chills. Cruz danced her number well, but I could have done without the singing. Cotillard is stunning to watch on-screen, but her numbers were definitely more melodramatic than the others.
I wanted to like this movie, but it was dreadfully boring. The pace was entirely too slow and sadly, this was not my favorite role for Day-Lewis. He played it well; but a selfish, philandering filmmaker is not a role best suited for the Oscar winner. Apart from the two performance numbers I praised earlier, the rest of the music and dance numbers were too depressing. They were slow and felt so old. Director Rob Marshall scored when he directed the musical, Chicago, but just couldn’t bring the same excitement to Nine.