Nine Rob Marshall

Nine Rob Marshall
Now, I'm sure that Rob Marshall is a fantastic theatre director. He knows how to compose a stage with lush colour, playful choreography and a consistent aesthetic vision to capture the mood and glamour of that business we call show. I'm not exactly convinced that he knows the difference between theatre and film, however. Chicago had the benefit of timing and industry politics to boost what was essentially a filmed version of a stage show with absolutely no subtlety or grace. And Nine is more of the same, but thankfully shows some improvement, as there is at least some variation between the musical numbers and the core story has something resembling human emotion, even if those emotions are screamed at the audience like they're sitting at the back of an auditorium. The title comes from Fellini's 8 ½, a vastly superior film on which this is loosely based, implying that this gauche musical has an extra something that makes it a "nine" (and clearly that something isn't humbleness). Except here, the director is named Guido Contini (Daniel Day Lewis), rather than Fellini, and he is shooting a movie called Italia, which doesn't even have a script and is sure to be yet another in his ever expanding line of flops. His impending failure might come as more of a surprise if he weren't such a tedious, self-serving egomaniac. Occasionally he sings about his disposition, as do the many women in his life, who each arrive for a bit of flirtation or coitus, sing a bland song from the Disney reject bin about loving an emotionally unavailable man, leave and then randomly return to shake their ass in a corset. Each musical number exists on a single soundstage, either in black & white or rich colour, much like a stationary performance at an awards show, making this little more than filmed theatre. If the inner-relations and nuance had some guileful handling this all might have worked, but every little thought and feeling is pronounced like a lightning bolt, making the entire ordeal quite obnoxious. Marshall's prissy commentary on the DVD only reinforces this, as there is little more to talk about than how lovely Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman are. Oh, and did you know that Kate Hudson had never sung before professionally? Did you care? There's a featurette on this, along with interviews about the sets, costumes, director and so on. (Alliance)