Writer’s block. Oh my god, how many times does a creative person look for inspiration, and fail more often than he/she succeeds? But in Nine, Daniel Day-Lewis so beautifully portrays the lost child within, the-boy-that-yearns-to-be-a-child-that-yearns-to-be-a-man, the Freudian (maybe even Oedipal) angst, the emptiness when words fail him, the pain of a missing story, the desperate search for a muse and the haunting of a woman wronged. Well many women were wronged by him – and they loved him in the way women get attracted to a project and they wallow in the misery of being a part of that project. The man that has failed in many ways and looks for redemption – from the one woman who can give it to him.
The layers of the movie are as many as the title of this blog post, okay maybe I exaggerate, but trying to catch the many levels at which it works, the complex characterization of each person…all admirably portrayed through one-song-and-a-few-lines-scene each. Each character, each woman comes alive within that tight frame that she is allowed. And through each of them, Lewis’ failings are unearthed.
Possibly the weakest area of the movie also has some of its strengths – weak or bland dialogue intersperses with some very powerful lines, often spoken so simply that you want to reach and catch them before they float away. Judi Dench gets more than a handful of those and Marion Cotillard suffers from less than her share (which she makes up for with great expressions). Nicole Kidman gets a briefer scene than what one would expect but gets some great lines and moments. Oh and the songs – what should have been the strength of the musical nearly becomes its undoing – lacking rhythm and poise, the lyrics are more often than not uninspiring; but the score survives and the women make it watchable.
Great camera work and cinematographic vision, love the bleary red-darkness of the film and the meshing storylines between fantasy, past and present. The little boy crawling back into the man…surreal at times, existentialist in its soul, but the film redeems itself from its weaknesses, just like the protagonist.