Fergie may be a pop star, but make no mistake, she can belt. "Be Italian" is the best singing performance of the film - such drama and yearning. Marion Cotillard gives perhaps the best acting performance. "My Husband Makes Movies" is heartbreaking, and "Take It All" is kinky in a very tragic way. I rather like Kate Hudson's "Cinema Italiano" even though her character is merely a bouffanted yes-woman in the movie unlike in the stage show.
I'm surprised that Penelope Cruz was nominated for a GG though. She's quite sexy and tortured in her non-musical scenes, but her singing voice is a little thin, and she doesn't extend her limbs fully when she dances. Nevertheless, kudos for getting by on pure moxie cuz that's what you really need if you haven't got the pipes or the gams.
Daniel Day-Lewis is serviceable and charismatic, and Judy Dench is certainly a saucy dame. She speaks through a lot of "Folies Bergere," but it works. Nicole Kidman and Sophia Loren are underused, but they're still beautiful and iconic, respectively.
Overall, a brilliant spectacle with a surprisingly moody script that captures much of its source material's existential angst.
1960s Italy. Once-celebrated film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) struggles with his unwritten script for his comeback film. Looking for inspiration, he turns to his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his wife (Marion Cotillard), his muse (Nicole Kidman), his confidante (Judi Dench) and his childhood memories to solve his crisis, with unsuccessful yet well-sung results.
I really wanted to like this film as I'm a big fan of Daniel Day-Lewis and the impressive cast of females has rarely, if ever, been bettered. However, I'm not big on musicals or director Rob Marshall for that matter. Thankfully, this is not quite as bad as Marshall's overrated stinker "Chicago", but it isn't much better either. Day-Lewis was my main reason for attempting this and considering he's quite fastidious in his choices, I thought I'd follow his lead on this one. I was wrong and so was he in choosing this meandering borefest. The look of the film is gorgeous, as expected, with fabulous production design and cinematography and the ladies (oh the ladies) look amazing and deliver their song and dance numbers competently. Having Judi Dench in a corset was just a tad too much for my liking though. It was around this point in the movie that I realised this thinly veiled attempt at recreating a muscial of Frederico Fellini's "8 1/2" was a great waste of talent.
A lush and extravagant musical that has style in abundance. Substance is what it lacks though, leaving a great cast struggling to save it from tedium. Suited to fans of the genre only.
I mean obviously I am not the target audience for this. If you enjoy musicals, check it out, if not, this probably isn't the movie to convert you. I managed to sit through the whole thing, so that at least says something for it.
A film about not having a script needs to have a great script, and this unfortunately does not. Beautiful photography can't save this ode to cheating on your wife. With the exception of Be Italian (which is by far the films highlight) all of the songs are thoroughly forgettable.
I liked it, but it wasn't as good as Chicago. The costumes where lovely, it's a beautiful drama, great songs. The cast was incredible. It's worth a watch.
You might expect, they all turn in excellent performances. Yes, Daniel Day-Lewis can sing, and dance, and even speak Italian (show-off), Kate Hudson is one helluva hoofer, Penelope Cruz can move in ways you never thought decent in a musical, Judi Dench can pull off a good tune, and Fergie (the Black Eyed Pea rather than the Duchess) absolutely nails the musical's one guaranteed foot stomper, Be Italian. Oh, and Nicole Kidman can sing, but you knew that already.
But in among these first-rate turns there shines an even sparklier star in the form of Marion Cotillard, playing the alienated wife Luisa to Day-Lewis's charismatic yet uninspired film director, Guido. Enchanting and saddening in equal measure, Cotillard gracefully steals the show from under everyone's noses, masterfully delivering the other two big numbers, the eye-watering My Husband Makes Movies and the uncompromising better Take It All.
Shooting and cutting Marshall's numbers like a dervish, he undeniably has a gift in taking musical newcomers and making them shine. Yet his grip falters in its ambitious Fellini-esque time-shifting structure, the film awkwardly juggling black-and-white snapshots from Guido's childhood with colourful musical numbers set on a huge stage.
Perhaps the most shocking disappointment is Daniel Day-Lewis; though his charisma is apparent in bursts such as the press conference, he cannot sing at all and his physicality seems labored. The man's pushing 50, so it's pretty sensational that he can pull off what he does in the first place, but it doesn't keep his gymnastic first number from feeling any less awkward. The nadir of Guido's journey for inspiration comes to us via Kate Hudson, a competent dancer and terrible singer slurring her way through a mindless, bizarrely sexy hymn of praise to Italian cinema. Her subsequent disappearance from the film only goes to highlight the value of her contributions. A similar fate befalls Fergie, though she can actually sing and her number at least benefits Guido's character, subtly explaining the origins of his love for and appreciation of women. Judi Dench's only shining moment is her musical number, where she is allowed to be broad and jubilant and excitable, something I feel like I never see from her. (Disappointingly, the song itself is dull.) In character, she's predictably terse and foresighted, a Dench performance to the last drop. Penelope Cruz's performance is decent but A Call From the Vatican just doesn't buzz like it should; the camera's shameless ogling of her lady parts seems like a cheap substitute for the undersold musical number itself. She was not worthy of an Oscar nomination, if I do say so myself, and I say this as a relatively recent convert to the church of Cruz. Nicole Kidman stands on similar ground, evincing the untouchable movie star persona that Claudia Janssen's part calls for. Everything seems to light up around Guido when she finally splashes into the movie. Unfortunately, her number is dull as dirt, and she's a proficient but totally uninteresting singer. Sophia Loren is in the movie for less than five minutes. And finally, after all this drubbing, the good part. As you've surely heard from everyone who's seen Nine, the MVP is Marion Cotillard, who sings and dances and acts like she could do it in her sleep. Rob Marshall knows it, too - her killer performance of My Husband Makes Movies gets the most focused, flattering editing of anything else in the movie. All the better for us to transfix on her sterling voice and the emotion that she effortlessly suffuses it with. She embarrasses Hudson right out of the movie.
To be fair, I haven't seen 8 1/2 (I KNOW!), so I'm not sure what the magnitude of utter bastardization here is. As an independent work of cinema, it's a whole lot of peaks and valleys. Marshall seems to be a director who has made a lot of promises to a lot of pretty people, some of which worked out better for him than others. The end result of their combined efforts is kind of a hot mess, a movie that is sometimes fun and sometimes touching but that you finish feeling utterly empty and unaffected. Its disposable nature wouldn't be so offensive, were it not for its clear ambitions; Marshall was gunning for more Oscar gold here, but fell sadly short. Like with Chicago, fans of the musical will eat this up, but everyone else probably won't find much to appreciate in it.
Nate's Grade: C
From Day-Lewis being rarely miscast as Guido to Marshall's Broadway-like direction, Nine doesn't get you invested enough for you to care about the characters. Wasted performances by Cruz and Cotillard can't save this chaotic disaster.