Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Stacy Ferguson (Fergie), Sophia Loren
Rated PG-13; now playing at AMC Newport, Showcase Cinema de Lux Florence, Mariemont Theatre
"You're greedy...an appetite devouring everything. And I have nothing left to give." -Marion Cotillard
It would be hard not to expect a lot from this film, considering it was helmed by Rob Marshall, who also directed the Oscar-winning film Chicago. Heck, he even managed to elicit some pretty solid tunes out of people like Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger, and John C. Reilly. Certainly Nine has a lot of the glitz and glamour of its predecessor, and although it falls a little short in terms of story and plot, it's definitely an entertaining show.
The movie centers around Guido Contini (Day-Lewis), a narcissistic, world-renowned film maker, and the many women in his life, both past and present: his deceased mother (Loren), the woman who gave him his first glimpse at female sensuality (Fergie), his wife (Cotillard), his mistress (Cruz), his muse (Kidman), his costume designer/confidante (Dench), and a Vogue reporter who's chomping at the bit to seduce him (Hudson). At the beginning of the film, Guido is on the brink of making Italia, his biggest film yet. What we soon realize is that Guido has lost his stuff and is struggling to even nail down a concept, let alone a script, much to the chagrin of his producer. As he desperately tries to stall the media and his crew, his personal life also begins to unravel, forcing him to reevaluate who he is as a person and as a filmmaker.
There's really not much else to say plot-wise without giving away the bulk of the story, not that it's very hard to figure out. The fun, however, comes from the various solo performances of its gorgeous and talented female cast. Even powerhouse actor Day-Lewis pales in comparison to the provocative, energetic, and even soulful numbers by its leading ladies. Fergie's performance of "Be Italian" is reminiscent of the "Cell Block Tango" scene in Chicago, providing a healthy dose of raw sass. Hudson's spunky number is fun and enthusiastic (who knew that blonde little waif could seriously shake her groove thang???). Marshall even manages to make the senior Dench do a sexy albeit mature turn on a piano in a (conservative) bustier. But it's the fishnet and lace clad Cruz who brings down the house in a playful, sexually-charged song and dance number that is sure to leave every male in the audience needing a cold shower.
Although it seems unlikely that Nine will snag a lot of Oscar statuettes in March, it's still a good time, and you probably won't leave the theatre gnashing your teeth in fury over wasting ten bucks. The storyline may not be quite as sharp as Chicago, but it's got a lot more bite than the fluff fest that was Mamma Mia. Another fun plus: The credits show outtakes of the actresses rehearsing their numbers, plain-faced and make-up free.
But fellas, don't complain if your girl drags you to see this. Trust me: Visually speaking, you WON'T be sorry. And who knows, maybe a satin corset will find its way into your lady love's boudoir.