Year: 2009 (2010 U.K Release)
Director: Rob Marshall
Screenplay: Michael Tolkin and Anthony Minghella
Starring: Daniel Day Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penople Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren
Frederico Fellini's 8 1/2 is a wonderful, abstract film which shows a director at his most playful. Nine is another bland musical from Rob Marshall which is based on a theater show, which liberally borrows (i.e nicks) from Fellini's feature. While I haven't seen the stage musical, if this is anything to go by I'm happy I saw 8 1/2 first.
Fellini's film was sexy without being overtly sexual, stylish without being overly stylized and filled with content that melded dreamscapes with reality in a blink of an eye. It's a film that just washed over me and not only left me entertained but inspired (not that I could write anything as lucid as Fellini). Nine lacks the joy of the film that came before it, in fact the film is merely a pre-meditated attack on the awards season, stuffing the film with statue winners while neglecting everything else.
As a musical, it has no memorable songs. In fact they're not even interesting songs. The tunes are more likely to have aficionados ho-humming than just humming. As a regular film, it lacks the subtly that resided within the original film, with any poignant moments cut short by these musical numbers. These numbers are jarring, state the obvious and desperately try and hide the fact that Nine is trying to make a surreal film more conventional. Marshall's overall direction of the story is mediocre to say the least and the mixture of the unengaged drama and music don't mesh as well as they should. In fact I'm struggling now to remember any worth while scenes, such is the unremarkable telling of story.
It's not all bad I guess, there's some cute references to Fellini and his legacy and the performances by anyone with more than five minutes screen time do their best with the material. In fact, despite only being in the film for about ten minutes, Kate Hudson puts in a turn with more verve than anything she's done in the last ten years.
Unfortunately, it was all at a loss for me. In my opinion Nine lacked the energy as well as the mischievous of it's cinematic origin. Hell, it didn't even have the kinetic flair of Baz Luhrmann's far superior Moulin Rouge whose combination of romance, pop songs and dance number is still a spectacle to behold. Nine asked me to be Italian. Unfortunately for Marshall, the Italians were much better at the questioning.
Note: While I know that the film is based on a stage musical,however, during the credits, I don't remember the film saying anything about Frederico Fellini or 8 1/2. This says a lot about how Hollywood views film history at the best of times, taking imagery and reference from a filmmaker and not even crediting him in the main credits. It your going to mangle a man's film at least state who he is.