Nine is the perfect movie to start off the New Year. It is a wham-bam musical exploration of a man trying to find balance in his personal and professional life by shucking off bad habits and embracing what is solid and real. This is pretty much ripe New Year’s resolution territory. The best part is that this lost, wayward man looks to all the dynamic and complex women in his life to find his way. In this respect, he shows his intelligence.
Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Guido Contini, a famous Italian film director who is being railroaded by his studio to create his next masterpiece. The only problem is that he does not have a script. The film takes us on his chaotic ride as he runs from this reality. As Guido tries to ground himself and find some of sort of solid footing in his creative process, we get to meet all of the amazing women who influence him. And by amazing, I mean the actresses. Sure, the characters are great, but it is the actual performances that are the showstoppers.
Take, for instance, Guido’s mistress, played by Penelope Cruz. She is an iridescent bubble of a gal, oblivious to the treachery their affair has on their spouses. But when that bubble pops, she is raw and contrite. The outstanding dame Judi Dench is the rock solid confidante with whom Guido can always be himself. But of all of the women in the movie (did I mention Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson and Fergie?), it is Marion Cotillard, who plays Guido’s wife, who took my breath away. Her performance is so vulnerable and tragic. All the ladies love Guido, but by loving him, she is the most damaged.
This leads me to the musical numbers the women perform. Each is magical in its own right. But Cotillard’s emotionally distraught contribution is searing, and a cool foil to Cruz’s. Both are sexy as heck, but one is black and the other is a rainbow.
Nine is one satisfying movie. Director Rob Marshall does a great job hitting us from every angle. There are moments of hilarity and tragedy, love and loss, chaos and resolution. And through it all, there are rousing songs and dances that take us away into what I believe is movie magic.
One final word, since I won’t see you until next month; see Up in the Air, too. It is excellent. Plus, it is two hours of George Clooney. Enough said.