Friday, 1 January 2010

From 8 1/2, to Nine, to Nine, to.....7 1/2????

I still can't make my mind up! I thought it was going to be my film of the year - ever since I heard that it started filming last December I was so excited, eagerly anticipating the first time that I would see a musical at the cinema (I don't really count Mamma Mia as a musical in case anyone was wondering).

Nine is directed by Rob Marshall, who directed the film adaptation of Chicago, one of my all-time favourite films, which I'm going to rewatch later. Nine has an amazing cast, which I like more overall than the Chicago cast, so it had all the ingredients to be fantastic. So why wasn't it?

In Chicago (film version) the musical numbers are from Roxie's point of view, which works really well. In Nine they were from Guido's point of view, but for me this didn't work as well, and if a cinema-goer was not aware that this was where the numbers were taking place they would end up being very confused. It just wasn't realistic - Roxie's obsession with the stage warrants the numbers taking place in her head, but here it didn't seem to work, maybe because they all took place in very extravagant places, instead of in the same place, which is how it works in Chicago. Unless, the extravagant places were meant to be a film set. I just thought of this, and that definitely explains it.

The dialogue and non musical scenes were directed very well, and the choreography and musical staging was also done very well. It just seemed quite disjointed the way they fit together and the story kept juddering. The editing was not as good as it could have been. The screenplay was okay, but didn't really develop the characters properly - I had no real idea who any of them were, even by the end of the film. The story had so much potential, but for me this was just not realised.

Some thoughts on the cast:

Daniel Day-Lewis - Surely one of the best actors of our generation, yet floundered hopelessly. The role of Guido seemed so boring, there seemed to be a depth to it that he couldn't quite bring out. Plus, he almost spoke instead of singing, and there was no real reason to "care" about his character as the story progressed.

Marion Cottilard - I really liked her performance as Luisa, her two musical numbers were great, really different from how she performed in La Vie en Rose, showing her versatility. She was endearing, but sadly starved of screentime.

Penelope Cruz - I really like Penelope, and her role suited her really well. "Call from the Vatican" was probably the second best musical number, after Be Italian. She definitely looked the part and I really enjoyed watching her. Her storyline was probably the most interesting.

Nicole Kidman - Boring....I know Catherine Zeta-Jones was originally cast in this role, and I think she would have made more of it. I love Nicole as an actress, but she was just there - she didn't really do anything memorable or add anything to the film. Also, her singing really hasn't improved since Moulin Rouge, which is a shame.

Kate Hudson - Hmmm.....I still haven't made up my mind on her as an actress. Her musical number seemed too over the top, but her acting was decent enough.

Stacey Ferguson (Fergie) - I was pleasantly surprised, Be Italian was easily the best number and her vocal performance was fantastic.

Judi Dench - A good supporting actress, as always. It was annoying the way that her character wasn't even Italian, but she sung in an irritating Italian accent.

Sophia Loren - Fit her role really well. I quite enjoyed her performance, I haven't seen any other films with her in but will need to check them out.

I think it will be like Chicago, whereby I watched it, thought it was okay, then thought little more of it until I watched it again, brought the full Broadway and West End cast recordings, ended up loving them and understanding the whole story. And then, of course, I saw Chicago on stage. I would love to see this on stage, because I think then the film will compliment it nicely in the way that Chicago does for me now. But for the moment, I give Nine 74/100, which rounds to 7 and a half.

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