A vibrant and provocative musical filled with love, lust, passion and glamour. A world famous film director reaches a creative and personal crisis of epic proportion, while balancing numerous women in his life. With its in... more »credible all-star cast, amazing performances, and stunning visuals, this razzle-dazzle extravaganza will make you long to BE ITALIAN.« less
Lori L. (lorifoxb) from LAGUNA BEACH, CA Reviewed on 11/7/2011...
Love it. The 'story' is weak but it's full of the Rob Marshall GREAT stage productions that you just can't quit watching it. The musical productions are GREAT! Quit trying to make this into anything other than it is!!! A SCHMULTZY Musical!!! LOVE IT!!!
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Mary L. (marymix) from NANTUCKET, MA Reviewed on 9/1/2011...
I almost quit watching this film, because there just wasn't any reason to continue. Barely a plot, and barely any reason to watch the 'musical' sequences, which make this film look more like a Victoria's Secret shoot, as another reviewer suggested. I should have quit, because the ending was even less satisfactory! What a waste of the actresses' time. I can't imagine any of them were proud of the film, and I see no reason for the Best Supporting Actress award for Pevelope Cruz.
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Robert J. from SUNNYSIDE, NY Reviewed on 1/3/2011...
This could have been a fabulous, beautiful movie. The performances are fine, the conceptualization is horrid. This movie is so stage bound it isn't funny. What could have been amazing numbers shot in Italy are bump and grind routines in Victoria's Secret wear on a sound stage.
I love the score, I hated the movie and had to stop it about 1/2 through because I just couldn't take it anymore. Wait for the next Broadway revival if you want to experience the show.
1 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Everyone Should "Be Italian"
thornhillatthemovies.com | Venice, CA United States | 01/16/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a little upset with people who are fans of musicals. There isn't enough product to satisfy our desire and when a very good example of this genre is released, we stay away in droves. I simply don't understand why "Nine", the new musical, not to be confused with "9", the recent animated film from Tim Burton, s getting pretty unanimously bad critical reviews. I don't understand why fans of the genre are staying away.
Directed by Rob Marshall ("Chicago"), "Nine" is an adaptation of a very successful Broadway musical adapted from the Fellini film "8 ½". The film contains some very good performances and some amazing vocals and dancing from actors I didn't know could sing or dance. Add to that a beautiful and romantic period setting and you have a film that is a fitting companion piece to "Chicago".
Are fans of this genre waiting for the next Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire? Is that why they are staying away? Do you secretly desire "An American in Paris II" or a remake of "Singin' In The Rain"? That won't happen (I pray to God). As we continue to evolve and our tastes become more modern, the genres we love have to adapt and change along with us. For a long period of time, the only musicals we could see on the big screen were animated. Many of these were great and provided an avenue for talented people. Then, Baz Luhrmann managed to convince 20th Century Fox to let him make "Moulin Rouge". "Chicago", "Mamma Mia", "Hairspray" and more than a few films that should be forgotten followed this. A lot of people didn't like "Moulin Rouge" because of the frantic visual style. I loved it. "Chicago" is a bit more traditional than "Moulin Rouge", allowing the viewer to get involved in the story and characters because they take a moment (every so often) to breath. Now Marshall follows this success with "Nine".
Rome, the 60s. Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), a very successful Italian film director is experiencing writer's block after two of his films have flopped. This is unfortunate because his longtime producer is practically forcing him to make his new film. They have a title, "Italia" and are convinced it will star Claudia Messina (Nicole Kidman), Contini's longtime muse. Even his confidant, and confessor, his longtime costume designer, Lilli (Judi Dench) knows he is having trouble, but she does her best to provide support and a nudge when needed. A set is in production on a huge soundstage at Cincecitta, but Guido is experiencing a midlife crisis and can't come up with anything to write about. When the pressure becomes too great, he runs off to a spa on the Italian peninsula and hides there, trying to escape everyone and everything. He calls his wife, Luisa (Marion Cotillard, "La Vie En Rose") and tells her he will be home in a few days. Then he calls his mistress, Carla (Penelope Cruz) and gets her installed in a nearby penzione. When his production team and producer show up at the spa, what was supposed to be rest quickly becomes a working holiday and continues to stress out the famous director. Instead, he begins to remember all of the women in his life and with each memory, comes a new musical number and an equally amusing performance by one of the ladies.
I really liked a lot about what "Nine" is trying to do. Unfortunately, I also think many of the things I like are also the same things keeping people away from the multiplex.
As Guido deals with his writer's block and all of the complications of his life, he begins to remember back to each of the important women in his life and their various influences in shaping who he has become. There are some references to Guido's history with women and the sheer number of sexual partners seems to be large, but there are certain women in his life who are important and he remembers each with fondness. As the memories flood back, Marshall begins to cut some of the most beautiful footage I have seen in a long time into the story, providing us with a biographical glimpse into the director's life. He remembers back to his childhood when he paid a loose woman to show off her private parts to a group of children. This is told through black and white footage and shows the boys running across an Italian beach. When the woman comes out of her hut, "Be Italian" begins and the story cuts back and forth from the footage at the beach to a full-blown musical number featuring singer Fergie (from the Black Eyed Peas) as Saraghina. As the musical number progresses, you begin to realize Saraghina and the many other women in the number are actually on the soundstage back in the studio in Rome, it's iconic roman arches ever present. Yet, the singers are sitting on wooden chairs and flinging sand around. It is a visually striking musical number and quickly establishes how the film will unfold.
Not only do we start to get a feeling for Guido's life leading up to this crisis, we also realize he is, in fact, remembering things that will eventually make it into the film he has to make next. His memories are showing him his next film, guiding him through the narrative before he writes it.
Later, when Carla (Cruz) arrives at the Spa, she sings the song "Guido, Guido, Guido"; cavorting around in an outfit Victoria's Secret would be smart to copy. Carla is deeply in love with Guido and dances using pink velvet ropes and silk.
Judi Dench is surprisingly good when her turn comes. As a major influence in Guido's life, he turns to her for support, guidance, a stern word when needed. She reveals a lot about her background as a fashion designer when she sings the song "Folies Bergere", about her early life designing costumes for the racy nightclub in Paris. Dancers in costumes reminiscent of the popular Parisian show dance around the same Roman arches.
Kate Hudson is also very good as Stephanie, a young American journalist in Rome writing about the director for a magazine. She follows Guido to the spa and flirts with him, the sexual tension increasing exponentially. This footage is intercut with Hudson and a slew of dancers performing "Cinema Italiano", which is, I believe, the one new number written for the film. The musical segment is a lot of fun, very fast paced and done as a tribute to the 60s. Hudson seems to be channeling some of her mom's early persona in the performance.
Marian Cotillard and Nicole Kidman are the two most personal female relationships in his life, so their numbers are more introspective and romantic.
Sophia Loren plays Mamma and it is great to see her on screen as Guido's conscience. But her musical number is least successful because she doesn't appear to be as good a singer or as comfortable singing. It is more of the "talking lyrically" type of song people generally do when they can't do a real musical number.
Overall, the musical numbers are very good. Will they be memorable enough to be remembered in a decade? Two? Three? Will Robert Osborne's clone talk about the film one day on Turner Movie Classics? I don't know. But they are fun to watch.
This is one of those films set in a very specific place where everyone has a different accent. This aspect of the film reminded me a bit of the big budget films produced in the late 50s and early 60s, the type filled with an International cast to ensure box office success around the world. Daniel Day Lewis' Italian accent is impressive and even more impressive, he sings in the accent. Nicole Kidman does an okay job playing the Italian movie star. Marian Cotillard restrains her French accent and seems to be going for a more American sound. Penelope Cruz is just herself. Strangely, Judi Dench doesn't attempt any accent other than her normal voice and her character is French. Altogether, a bit of a strange hodgepodge. I guess it's better for some to not even attempt an accent if they can't do one. Hearing the actor's normal voice helps you forget they should have an accent. If they did a bad one, you'd never hear past it.
Daniel Day Lewis is very good as Guido. At every moment, you can see and feel the world crashing in on him. Forced to attend a news conference to announce the new film, he tries to joke, to flirt, to laugh, all in an effort to hide the fact he hasn't written one word of the script yet. He basically has no idea what the new film should be about. When members of the press get close to unveiling the truth, he flees to the spa.
When he is presented with the opportunity to make a change in life, he seems close to taking these leaps, but ultimately the change seems to hard for him and he reverts back to normal. This only serves to drive his crisis.
I think it is brave of Day-Lewis to take on this role. We have never seen him sing or dance before and he does a good job with the singing. When he breaks out into song, he retains his accent, never letting it falter.
Either his dancing wasn't up to the task, or his musical numbers just weren't designed to involve elaborate dance moves. His dancing resembles what kids would do on a jungle gym on the playground. Hoe holds onto bars and swings around them in large, lazy circles and slides his feet around.
The film is set in Italy in the mid 60s. This gives the film a beautiful look; everything appears romantic and almost fantasy like.
If you're a fan of the genre, I hope you will make an effort to see this film. If we don't support these works, Hollywood will stop making them. I can already tell you the names of two producers who will most likely never produce another musical again."
ANOTHER ROB MARSHALL MASTERPIECE
Anthony Santamauro | United States | 02/03/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I HAVE BEEN LISTENING TO THE BAD REVIEWS ABOUT THIS EXCELLENT MUSICAL SINCE IT WAS RELEASED. ROB MARSHALL'S CONCEPTION OF THIS BROADWAY MUSICAL IS BRILLIANT. WE ARE NOT SUPPOSE TO KNOW ANYTHING MORE ABOUT THE WOMEN IN DANIEL DAY LEWIS' LIFE. JUST THAT THEY WERE PART OF HIS LIFE AS HE GREW TO MANHOOD. NO DIFFERENT THAN THE HIT BROADWAY MUSICAL. MARSHALL EFFORTLESSLY INTEGRATES THE SONGS WITH THE DRAMA. EVERY NUMBER AND I MEAN EVERY NUMBER IS A SHOWSTOPPER AND STAGED AS ONLY MARSHALL COULD DO. THIS IS A FIRST RATE MOTION PICTURE AND I THINK IT'S BEEN UNJUSTLY IGNORED BY THE PUBLIC AND THE CRITICS. IT STANDS ALONE AS IT'S OWN ENTITY AND CAN NOT BE COMPARED WITH CHICAGO WHICH IN IT'S OWN BRILLIANT COMMERCIAL WAY IS ALSO A CLASSIC. NINE IS A COMPLICATED AND HIGHLY SOPHISTICATED MUSICAL THAT WASN'T MEANT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY. THE PICTURE BELONGS TO DANIEL DAY LEWIS NOT TO THE WOMEN IN HIS LIFE. MAURY YESTON HAS WRITTEN A FANTASTIC SCORE AND COMBINED WITH ROB MARSHALL'S DIRECTION IT FAR SURPASSES THE ACTUAL BROADWAY SHOW. I LOVED THIS FILM AND CAN NOT WAIT TO OWN THE DVD. BY THE WAY, NICOLE KIDMAN JUST HAPPENS TO SING ONE OF THE OUTSTANDING SONGS, (UNUSUAL WAY), WRITTEN BY YESTON AND DRAMATICALLY PERFORMS THE SONG TO PERFECTION. IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO SEPARATE THE SONG FROM THE DIALOGUE. CUDOS TO MARSHALL!!!!"
Craig Whittle | Phoenix, AZ | 03/07/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
STARRING: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren and Stacy Ferguson
WRITTEN BY: Michael Tolkin and Anthony Minghella; based on the Broadway musical "Nine" by Arthur Kopit, Maury Yeston and Mario Fratti
DIRECTED BY: Rob Marshall
Rated: PG - 13 Genre: Musical / Drama Release Date: 25 December 2009
If Nine wasn't one of the ten best films of 2009, it sure was close. I'm not a big fan of musicals in general, but if a film is good, then it's good. Rob Marshal, the Academy Award nominated director of Chicago, has created another unique and glorious musical with a banging soundtrack.
Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Guido Contini. He's a guy who isn't very optimistic despite having Marion Cotillard for a wife and Penelope Cruz for a mistress. He is a successful filmmaker and is having trouble producing the material for his latest film. But due to his accredited past, he is able to have an entire production put into motion without even so much as a rough copy of a screenplay.
The film opens with a huge musical number that was not the least bit cheap. We meet all the leading ladies, and Guido. These leading ladies consist of Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson, Judie Dench, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren and Stacy Ferguson (aka `Fergie' for you MTV folks).
They are all leading ladies in Hollywood and the characters they portray are leading ladies in the mind and or life of Guido. Sophia Loren is his mother, Judi Dench is his costume designer, Nicole Kidman is his friend as well as a famous actress, and Stacy Ferguson plays a seductive woman of his past that he found attractive at a very young age.
The reason for the huge musical number is to show us that Guido is a man who is constantly fantasizing about these various women in several different ways. Each one of them performs an amazing song at some point in the film; usually, if not always, taking place in Guido's mind.
Guido sulks around the frame throughout the film, living off utter moments of happiness that fade away within seconds. At one moment Penelope Cruz's character does it for him, but then he loses interest and it's Kate Hudson who has his attention. His wife even manages to catch his eye for a brief moment, but it's more than anything the fact that she's enraged with his having an affair, that he finds appealing. He's a poor sap indeed, but Lewis plays him magnificently. If you have seen Lewis in even one other film, then I don't need to tell you how talented he is.
Kate Hudson is in the film for a very short time, but blew me out of my seat nonetheless. She shows a side of herself that I have never seen before, that reminded me partially of her mother (Goldie Hawn) and something else completely unknown. I can't believe that she was not nominated for her performance. As if that's not bad enough, her beautiful song `Italian Cinema' was snubbed out of a nomination to boot. Why was this overlooked? I can't be alone in thinking it was spectacular.
I can see how Nicole Kidman, Daniel Day-Lewis and Judi Dench were all able to walk away without an Oscar nomination. Not that they weren't great, but we know what to expect from them; they are three of the most talented people acting today. But how did Marion Cotillard go unnoticed?
She was magnificent as Guido's emotionally neglected wife. There is a scene near the end of the film where she has come to the realization that he is not the man she thought he was when they married. He looks at her and sees this written across her face, and it is very powerful stuff. Her songs were extraordinary and one of them received an Oscar nomination.
Stacy Ferguson doesn't really do much acting in the film, but her song `Be Italian' was very enjoyable to watch and could have very easily been nominated for an Oscar as well.
It's almost offensive that out of all the incredible actors in Nine, Penelope Cruz was the only one to receive an Oscar nomination. I think she's a pretty good actress overall; but up against Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman and especially Marion Cotillard and Kate Hudson; Cruz falls miserably behind in this film. All of the other actors brought far more to the table than she did. It's bad enough she already won last year for her mediocre performance in Vicky Christina Barcelona. Sometimes, I just don't get the get the Academy Awards."
Quite simply magnificent
Les G. Solomon | NSW, Australia | 03/10/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Opinion on films is such an interesting thing, no two people feel the same way about the art of film. What's one man's poison etc...."Nine" seems to have been dividing a lot of people. Reviews have been almost ridiculously divided, after initial positive press (mainly in "Variety") a couple of major critics utterly trashed it. This seemed to play into a certain loathing of director Rob Marshall, who, many in the film world resented the way a choreographer had risen from the ranks to direct an Academy Award winning movie (ie "Chicago") Others (especially in Australia) have been much more embracing of the film, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun Herald both gave it rave reviews. More positive reviews have been turning up every day, so much so that today a lengthy advert appeared in the paper listing quotes. It;s good to see some people liking the film as there is much to like.
I went to the film very cynically, but it drew me into its world so much that I did something I havent done for years, I snuggled down in my seat and stayed and watched it again. I found the film quite enthralling, the boldness of Marshall's vision, the performances, especially Day Lewis who completely makes Contini his own and the magnificent Marion Cotillard among the highlights.
Many of the fans of the stage show have been scathing of the movie. No one could be more fond of the stage show than I, but to film it as a stage show runs the risk of the film of the musical "The Producers" which stayed so loyal to the show that it is now viewed as little more than an ambitious filming of the stage text. Movies as we know are a different form and very few stage musicals have successfully made that transition. In only examining films post "Chicago", I can only think of two that have come close to making a strong film of a hit stage show -" "Dreamgirls" and "Hairspray", neither are really great films and both heavily flawed in many ways, but they do manage to stay faithful to the book of the musical in some way while still being movies in their own right. I personally love "Rent" the movie, with all its flaws, as it has some great set pieces and a very strong heart, but it is easy to be very critical of it. The others including Tim Burtons' failed attempt to translate "Sweeney Todd" to film, the uneven and hysterically undisciplined "Mamma Mia", the languid "Phantom of the Opera", all fail to really make the basic premise of the original text live as a movie in its own right. (In the case of :"Mamma Mia" one could argue -what text!)
"Nine" I believe makes the transition to film successfully by throwing out many of the songs and set pieces of the stage show while still holding on to the central theme of the show- that is, that for Contini to overcome his demons and his mid life crisis and understand his own womanizing, he has to embrace his inner child. This is the main theme of the Fellini movie as well as the stage show. The stage musical painted this theme in strong colours even to the extent of having the young Guido as part of most of the action and the musical numbers. He makes many appearances in the film as well and I was wondering without the two finally meeting and singing together in the final moments, how that embracing could actually occur. The final words Guido says to his little Guido in the stage musical are to give him advise to go and be embraced by his mother- "I'll be fourty and you'll be nine". The movie ties this up beautifully without the song, we learn in the final moments that the film he is making is called "nine" it is clearly autobiographical and the little boy sits on Guido's lap and the two sail high on the movie crane as Guido calls `action'.
Yes we miss the colour and movement, the comedic touches of the stage show, the idea that Guido is going to make a musical of "Casanova" is much of the central premise of the stage musical, this would never work in film. Yet this is a more serious look at a man (now aged 50 not 40-more believable) in total crisis, the main four songs from the stage show are there, added with some nice new numbers and a sense of Fellini and Rome that is perhaps missing in the stage show. This is film of very European sensibilities, every aspect seems to breathe the central song's theme "be Italian", which may explain why some American critics have not "got it". It will do well in Europe and I suggest better than expected in Australia. Commercially it can never be a "Chicago", its theme is too personal, its canvas too subtle for the broard strokes of a musical bathed in burlesque and murder. Yet Marshall does allow his comic and musical homages; Judi Dench resplendent in "Folies Bergere' is given her Sally Bowles moment, paying tribute to the role she so affectively created on stage, Kate Hudson deliberately cast in a production number that pays homage to the "Laugh In' go- go numbers her mother made so famous in the sixties, Nicole Kidman clearly be-decked out to look like Anita Ekberg in "La Dolce Vita". Yet when Marshall turns his eye to his real leading lady; Marion Cotillard, as the much dumped on wife-Luisa, this is when movie magic occurs. Watching her "My Husband Makes Movies" is breathtaking with Dion Beebe's camera translating her every move onto a film canvas that illuminates her every word and thought, again her strip number, gets the point across as a worthy replacement for "Be on Your Own" her stage number in this part of the story scenario. In the stage musical Luisa leaves Guido when she sees he is making a mock musical of their own lives, in the film she leaves him when she sees the way he is handling a young starlet in a screen test, so similar to the beginning of their own relationship.
For me "Nine" is a masterpiece and I agree with one Australian critic this week who linked it to "Cabaret:" and "All That Jazz", putting it in the same company as "Cabaret" is praise perhaps a little too high, but it is up there with the best of musicals from stage shows. It hurdles the impossible gap between stage and film, but to truly love it, we must let go our memories of the wonderful way the stage musical told the story and embrace Marshall's new vision of the same story. Let us hope this isn't the last musical he makes, he is a master of the craft, I would love to see what he would do with "Pippin", "Follies" and "Company", all stage musicals tipped to be made into movies. Let us hope the failure of "Nine" at the American box office doesn't hold back this master from what he does best. !!"
Nine gets a .5
D. Sorel | Massachusetts USA | 05/21/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I was so disappointed when I missed Nine in the movie theater. I have a huge soft spot for musicals and thought that the all star cast would make for an outstanding film. Boy was I wrong!! There is on word that can summarize this movie: BORING. With a cast that includes such actresses as Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Judy Dench, and Penelope Cruz, one would think that the film would explode with action and fantastic acting. If this wasn't enough, the cast is led by the phenomenal Daniel Day Lewis and includes a musical appearance by Fergie. Yet, when all of these things are added together it proves to be a huge letdown and results in two hours of cinematic sludge.
The plot, if you can call it that, centers on the director Guido Contini and his various loves which range from his wife to his mistress, leading lady, and even the whore who gave him his first striptease. The characters aren't woven into the narrative. Instead, they are introduced, sing a song, and then are virtually removed from the film. Contini's wife has a bit more involvement as does his mistress, but the rest of the ladies are basically paraded through as a way to show Contini's philandering. A bit of a back story is tied together through flashbacks of Contini's childhood, but it does not add much to the plot or the understanding of his character. Even the songs seem lacking because they do not add anything to the plot. Instead, it feels like a concert in which each woman comes on stage to sing a song about her relationship with Contini and then is dismissed. With such powerhouse voices as Fergie, Penelope Cruz, and Nicole Kidman, I was expecting something more akin to Chicago or Moulin Rouge. But even their voices could not hold the film together. Eventually, I found myself wanting to fast forward the film to the songs only to be disappointed by their lack of emotion and impact on the audience.
Overall, I was clearly disappointed. The music was sub-par and the story wasn't compelling at all. The dancing was definitely exciting but overly sexual to the point that after three musical numbers, I felt like I was watching pornography. Sadly, Nine didn't even reach the least of my expectations."