Defies viewer expectations as to what constitutes a "movie"(as "good" movies should). Thus, those who prefer formulaic Hollywood-style reductions of cinema capable of rendering plot synopses that can be delineated in a paragraph will be endlessly frustrated and bemused and will bemoan Mr. Barney as self-indulgent (which is perhaps a somewhat accurate characterization, though not necessarily a derogatory one in this context), pretentious, and condescending. To put it bluntly, this one of those dreaded films where "nothing happens."
Without hesitation, I will say that this is perhaps the most visually stunning, phantasmagoric, and audacious film I have ever seen (with perhaps the noted exception of Alejandro Jodorowsky's "The Holy Mountain"), capturing some of the strangest and most beautiful images I have ever seen on film. The scope and scale of production are astounding in themselves. Truly a remarkable achievement and a testament to Mr. Barney's unflinching vision and relentless dedication to his craft.
Thus, to provisionally encapsulate the linear thread of the film for the uninitiated, the curious, and/or those bored enough to have read this far and to contradict my earlier statement about reductive synopses:
Two "strangers," Mr. Barney, and beloved/despised Icelandic chanteuse, Bjork (who composed the film's soundtrack, providing the aural contrast to Mr. Barney's visual cornucopia), board a Japanese whaling ship. The two are individually led through the byzantine corridors of the ship and undergo various ritualistic preparations. The two meet below decks at a tea ceremony where they proceed to amorously engage and ritualistically mutilate one another with ceremonial blades, culminating in their submersion into a tea-like liquid and transformation into Cetaceans....
Speaking for myself, to put a qualifying phrase tautologously, I feel that "Drawing Restraint 9" is best conceived as a meditation on the creation of art, a glimpse into a process beyond rational comprehension, and a beautiful homage to Japanese culture and mythology.
A "film" meant to evoke, provoke, and inspire, not to passively entertain. This is an exercise that necessitates viewer participation and open receptivity.Those seeking lulling, mindless, hedonistic pleasure in the insipid formulas of Hollywood should look elsewhere for their fix. The milquetoast need not apply. (Was that self-indulgent, pretentious and condescending enough?)