Director: Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha)
Screenplay: Michael Tolkin & Anthony Minghella
Based on: “Nine,” a Broadway musical by Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston, based on 8 1/2 by Federico Fellini
Producers: Rob Marshall, Marc Platt, John DeLuca, Harvey Weinstein
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, Fergie
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 110min.
When you make a movie inspired by Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, you’ve already got a lot more to live up to than most filmmakers are willing to take on. When you’re Rob Marshall and only have two other feature films on your directing resume, it takes some guts to embark on a project like Nine, even if you did manage to win a Best Picture Oscar for your directorial debut Chicago (an award that many film critics strongly disagree with, incidentally). On the other hand, Marshall comes from a musical/Broadway/choreography background, which gives him a leg up on Nine, which has a Broadway musical sitting between it and 8 1/2. So this could really have gone either way. But I have to say, with a cast like this one (which includes three of my girlcrushes as well as the always solid Judi Dench and often incredible Daniel Day-Lewis), I was really hoping it would work. And generally, it does, though admittedly with much less subtlety than Fellini’s original.
Film director Guido Contini (Day-Lewis) is known for a string of great successes early in his career, but is just coming off a couple of major flops as he’s supposed to be beginning another film, the one he and his supporters hope will be his comeback. But he’s unable to come with a solid story, much less a script, and shooting starts in ten days. He’s got his producer, his costume designer (Dench), and his leading lady (Nicole Kidman) all after him to get moving, but all he can manage to do is escape to a spa and fantasy versions of all the women in his life – from his mother (Sophia Loren) to the prostitute he remembers paying to dance at age 9 (Fergie) to his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), current mistress Carla (Penélope Cruz), and a fashion reporter (Kate Hudson). As Luisa points out to Guido, it’s “no wonder you’ve got no script, you’re too busy inventing your own life.” These fantasies become the musical numbers in Nine, each of them intercut with what’s going on in real life.
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