I enjoyed director Rob Marshall's new movie, Nine, but although there are some great individual performances there's something missing to make it a fantastic movie.
Based on the seven Tony Award-Winning Broadway Musical, itself inspired by Federico Fellini's autobiographical film 8 1/2, Nine focuses on successful Italian director 'Guido Contini' who is struggling to find the inspiration for his latest movie. The story follows his midlife crisis via his interactions with the important women in his life - his wife, his lover, his muse, his mother, his costume designer and confidant, and more.
Daniel Day-Lewis plays the part of Guido convincingly well, although he's a bit of an unsympathetic character, he's arrogant, a liar and a philanderer.
One of the problems with the movie for me, was without any prior knowledge of the Broadway Musical, and following the publicity for the film I was waiting for the movie to unite all it's leading ladies and for them to appear on screen in a big production number. Sadly this does not happen.
The film is like a series of cameos from the Hollywood starlets. Marion Cotillard is fantastic as his betrayed wife, her acting, singing and dancing spot on, Penelope Cruz delivers a show-stopping raunchy performance with 'A Call from the Vatican', Kate Hudson brings wonderful energy to 'Cinema Italiano' and Fergie steals the show with 'Saraghina's' song 'Be Italian'.
Judi Dench is great, as ever, as Guido's costume designer and friend and shines in the 'Folies Bergere' number. Even Sophia Loren is great as his mother.
The only actress I found lacking, and this could have been due to her relatively small part as Guido's muse, 'Claudia', was Nicole Kidman.
The film obviously has a niche appeal, director Rob Marshall's previous musical adaptation, 'Chicago', was far more well known. It's still a highly enjoyable and entertaining affair, beautifully filmed, with amazing costumes and stand-out performances, but it did drag at times.
I also thought the lyrics to the songs could have done with a few less 'Guido's' in them, as it was a bit repetitive.
Another criticism and this is probably of the musical, rather than just the film, is that you really expect (or want) a big ensemble finale at the end of the movie and it kind of ends with a whimper, rather than a bang.
From a writing perspective it's fitting end to Guido's personal journey and would work well on stage, but in a big production Hollywood movie, it wasn't as satisfying for me.
I give Nine three *** stars, but do recommend that you go see it as it is an interesting movie, with superb individual performances.
Don't forget to check out the stunning the costumes from Nine designed by Colleen Atwood.
Let's hope next year has as many great films to entertain me...