The movie/musical, "Nine," directed by Rob Marshall ("Chicago"), follows the life of the promiscuous, yet troubled, Italian film director, Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), and the many women who play integral roles in both his personal and professional lives.
The film opens on Contini, who is under a great deal of pressure to write a cinematic masterpiece despite the fact that two of his previous films were (in his own words) "major flops." While his resident costumer, Lilli (Judi Dench) is hard at work sewing flashy and flamboyant costumes for his muse, Claudia (Nicole Kidman), Contini has become seemingly detached from his surroundings and increasingly distracted by the voices in his head.
Thinking that a relaxing getaway would, perhaps, clear his head, Guido escapes to an exclusive resort where he receives a call from his mistress, Carla (Penelope Cruz, making her vocal debut in the sensuous song, "A Call from the Vatican"), who suggests that the couple engage in a "long overdue" romantic rendezvous.
Meanwhile, his longtime wife Luisa (portrayed by French actress Marion Cotillard), is hopeful that her husband will abandon his selfish ways and bring the genuine love back into their marriage that she felt they once shared. Guido, still at his "vacation getaway," cannot seem to "get away" from the guilt that he feels regarding his lustful desires toward the many women in his life.
Feeling that only a higher power could help him at this point of his life, he asks the Pope for guidance, at which the Pope suggests he should engage in deep introspection.
As Guido analyzes himself, he notices a distinct connection between his sexual addiction and the visual associations of his childhood with a prostitute by the name of Saraghina (Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson.) He also slowly arrives to the conclusion that the passing of his mother, "Mamma" (played by the iconic Sophia Loren) with whom he shared an intense and special bond, was perhaps feeding his latest "creative mental block."
"Nine" will take you on a behind-the-scenes journey into the melodramatic, yet exciting, world of "showbiz" while the leading man attempts, and repeatedly fails, to master the lost art of selflessness.
"Nine" could be described as a tunnel that journeys deep into the lead character's psyche and further proves the fact that all people are affected by their childhood experiences to some extent. In other words, this movie is very thought provoking and psychologically stimulating, unlike many other well-known, "toe-tapping" musicals of its kind. Though "Nine" contains many impressive musical numbers, including the highly anticipated "Be Italian" (Artfully belted by none other than "Fergie" of the "Black Eyed Peas"), the music does not dominate the storyline; this is a rarity in most musicals.
The scenery and the costumes are a "show" in themselves, so to speak. But they do not upstage the spot-on performances given by the cast, many of whom debuted their unknown musical talents. Each of the cast members, in their own way, "stole the show," including Marion Cotillard, whose eyes and mannerisms are eerily reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn. Penelope Cruz brought a multi-dimensional aspect to her role of "the other woman." Though Nicole Kidman's role of Claudia, the frustrated muse, was relatively small, she brought a certain ethereal charm to the part that very few others could. Sophia Loren's role of "Mamma" illustrates the strong bond between a mother and a child and brings about the realization that Guido is searching (in the arms of all the wrong women) for the maternal love he once shared with his mother. Dame Judy Dench gives an effortlessly humorous but heartwarming performance as the outspoken costumer, "Lilli." Lastly, Daniel Day-Lewis is simply "perfecto" in the part of Guido Contini.
Kate Hudson, however, seemed oddly out of place in the film, perhaps because she lacks the "period" appearance and demeanor that is apparent in most of the other actors. Hudson's role of "Stephanie," a fashionable American Vogue reporter, also did not complement the film or illustrate any powerful effect on Guido's life. With the above remarks regarding her un-redeeming character role aside, Hudson's big musical number, "Cinema Italiano" (in which she marvels at Conitni's creative genius) is one of the most memorable and delightfully catchy songs in the movie.
Those who are in any way involved in the entertainment industry will enjoy this musical because it offers an in-depth look at what truly occurs "behind the scenes" in the world of filmmaking and show business. "Nine" offers much more than merely the Chicago reminiscent show tunes and burlesque dancing that one may expect. Indeed, this film offers well-executed song-and-dance numbers, a beautiful cast of singers and actors and the one ingredient that holds it together -- true substance.
This film has been rated PG-13 for sexual content and smoking (Reviewer's Note: Some parents may find this film inappropriate for thirteen year olds because of the sexual content and innuendos.)
Victoria Henley, 16, is the daughter of Lynn and Russ Henley of Colquitt. She occasionally reviews movies for The Herald.