Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, Fergie
Nine is the film adaptation of a Broadway musical, derived from a play, inspired by the Federico Fellini film 8½. 8½ was itself a film about a director trying to make a film. Confused yet? Daniel Day-Lewis is Guido Contini, a successful director trying to pull together his latest film. He has no script and no inspiration. What he does have is a bare soundstage and eight women dominating his life.
Placating Luisa (Cotillard), his long-suffering ex-actress wife, he tries to keep his mistress Carla (Cruz) away from the film crew. His leading lady Claudia (Kidman) and fashion journalist Stephanie (Hudson) complicate matters further. The shadow of his mother (Loren), and the ghost of Saraghina (Fergie), a prostitute from his youth, further stifle his creativity. All the while, Dame Judi’s sardonic costume lady and confidante attempts to hold Guido’s psyche together: “Being a director is the most over-rated job in the world. You just say yes and no. Yes and no."
8½ benefited from being one of Fellini’s more accessible films, although it leaves the viewer feeling like they've just been thrown around the mind of an artist with ADHD. The format suiting the surreal source material, Nine manages to mostly pull itself into a narrative that is easier to follow. The all-singing all-dancing cast all fulfil their roles admirably (who knew Kate Hudson could sing?), although Day-Lewis overdoes the milkshake a bit with his comedy Italian accent.
8½ is considered one of the greatest films ever made, so any reinterpretation of it opens itself up to criticism by purists and Fellini devotees. Yes, this is dumbed-down Fellini for the Chicago generation. But on that level alone, it's well-executed entertainment and it’s hugely enjoyable.
It’s 8½ as a musical as done by the director of Chicago. Nine does exactly what it say on the tin. Great fun.