Saturday, December 26, 2009
"Nine" Motion Picture: A Review
Having grown up on Cinecitta films, I had my share of expectations for the new Rob Marshall film, Nine. Alas, none of the expectations were met. Daniel Day Lewis is undoubtedly one of the best actors of our time but in Nine he is neither a Marcello Mastroiani nor a Federico Fellini. And I really wanted to be utterly wowed by him. I wasn't. But not due to any of fault of his own. Bless his heart, the chap does try so. But there's only that much an actor can do when faced with a mediocre script and other performers who give less than what they can actually give. I'm referring to Marion Cotillard here. Even Dame Judy Dench.
I don't think I've looked at my watch more often than I did when in the theater suffering through this picture. The only enjoyable bit of the film comes from a little track Sophia Loren sings. But then again, she is Sophia Loren and I can't remember one single film of hers where I didn't pay attention. Very few performers beg for that kind of attention in this day and age. The rest of the actors were sub par, to say the least. Especially Fergie with her "Be Italian" rendering. Yawn.
Where did all the exquisitely gawdy Cinecitta references go? I'm sure someone could have made Marshall aware of them. I was hoping to see quite a few of them. I left the theater feeling underwhelmed, to say the least, and, more specifically, frustrated for not suggesting to my party that we see Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, instead. But I do love Fellini so.... I suppose when in the mood for some Fellini, check out some actual Fellini. I now feel like I need to overcompensate for the loss of two full hours in the theater.
In nuce, Nine did not live up to the hype. Hardly. And I was rooting for it. It's an embarrassing raising of the glass to utter vanity, promoted narcissism, and populist glory. In short, this picture is your usual case of form trumping content most thoroughly and on every level. Shallowness cannot be filled by the greatest talent regardless of how many Oscar winners you throw into the mix. And Daniel Day Lewis tries hard to convey the tortured artist as convincingly as he knows how but how can he succeed when all he has to rely on are flashy costumes, designer shades, and a rather well-made black suit? After all, it cannot be easy to call Sophia Loren your mamma and most of his artistic torture seems to stem from that relationship. I truly wished Marshall did his literature homework better and actually developed it more adequately.
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