Film #326: NINE
3 out of 5 stars
Another rewatch! Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat… I LOVED Arthur Kopit & Maury Yeston’s original play. It was amusing, playful, and a wonderful homage to Fellini and his films. Raul Julia OWNED the role of Guido Contini and the songs and vocal orchestration was terrific. Which brings us to this filmed version of it. First, I’ll say that the costumes and set designs are GORGEOUS. Second, there are moments of absolute brilliance here (Fergie’s BE ITALIAN being preeminent among them). The general feel of the film captures the feel of early ‘60s, LA DOLCE VITA era Italo-cinema. But then… there’s the cast. NINE features some of the worst casting imaginable. Daniel Day Lewis (who is normally brilliant in everything he does) is so far out of his element here that it’s almost embarrassing. Penelope Cruz is a joke completely misunderstanding her role as one of Guido's paramours. Kate Hudson's inclusion seems tacked-on and she couldn’t carry a tune in a Bekin's truck. And then… there’s the changes to the story and the score. Whole songs are cast aside and others (some absolutely terrible) are put in their place. The first 2/3 of the third act brings the energetic proceedings to a crashing halt and the entire ending feels false and misguided. The appearance of the still-beautiful Sophia Loren was appreciated though. I REALLY wanted to love this (hell, I’da settled for LIKE), but there’s just too many wonky things going on to make it a suitable representation of an otherwise brilliant play. Do yourself a favor and rent ALL THAT JAZZ instead... or go buy the CD of the Raul Julia musical.