There's simply no escaping the fact that Rob Marshall's Nine, adapted from a stage presentation of the same name which was adapted from a book which, in turn, was adapted from Frederico Fellini's 8 ½, is a pretty film. Its Italian location flashes with everything Americans think is Italy and its female cast is smoking hot with their retro ‘60s fashion vibe, but that's about it. There's little magic this time around for Marshall (Chicago) and actor Daniel Day-Lewis, while commanding and solid as usual, can't save the film from being a one-dimensional re-tread of complex themes inspired by Fellini's greatest work.

NineNine is the story of Guido Contini's attempt, a once-famous director played by Daniel Day-Lewis, to mount a comeback film called Italia! - without a script (due to a massive writer's block) and 10 days until cameras roll; it's Contini's mid-life crisis. At the same time, the director is so wrapped up in his selfish lust for women that he has no ability to separate a real life with his wife (a stunning Marion Cotillard) from the female fantasies his camera provides him with. The personal crisis builds and explodes until nothing is left to block the artist's mind - no pressure, no movie, no muses, and no wife there is nothing but Guido and his memories. Memories represented by the women of his life: his dead mother (Sophie Loren), his loyal costume designer (Judi Dench), his silver screen muse (Nichole Kidman), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his wife (Cotillard), his American paparazzi groupie (Kate Hudson), and the salty beach winch of his youth (Fergie). Nothing else is left of poor Guido and he has nowhere to go except back to the basics of filmmaking.

Having jettisoned a large portion of its musical score for dialogue, the musical is a bit of a let-down. Each woman gets a music number and Oscar-winning Daniel Day-Lewis, channeling Fellini's own Marcello Mastroianni as well as Roy Scheider from All that Jazz, gets his chance to sing and dance twice (which he does quite well). The only time Marshall's flashy choreography comes across as somewhat inspired; however, is with Kate Hudson's number, â"Cinema Italiano" and even that seems too-rooted in the glam of the 60's to be anything much beyond Italiano parody. On the quieter numbers, namely Cotillard's â"My Husband Makes Movies" Marshall's restrained camera moves as woefully as the actress does, producing the only believable emotion of the movie: sadness. Fergie's number, â"Be Italian", is set-up to be a remembrance of Sophia Loren's past film highlights (La Ciociara), but comes across as rather silly with Fergie doing what Fergie does best as a member of The Black Eyed Peas: teasing adolescent boys with yet another sexually-charged performance. Penelope Cruz's performance of â"A Call from the Vatican" is sultry and humorous and leaves you wanting more from her... which is exactly what her role as Guido's mistress is supposed to do.

Despite the epic star power of the cast, there is simply nothing new at work with Marshall's song-melodrama-more singing-more melodrama pacing. Guido's story is a somewhat tired routine and, in the facts of Tiger Woods' legion of female affairs now recently revealed, it's sadly all too familiar for a paying public to care that much about; a modest return is all the Weinsteins can expect with this feature. And, with as little as we're given about our protagonist, the acting talents of Daniel Day-Lewis can't elevate the story from being a simple issue of an artist recovering from a week-long binge involving a series of romantic trysts. The weight of the story we've seen before and it's been served better in films such as Woody Allen's Stardust Memories and Bob Fosse's All that Jazz, perhaps, as a result of those films, it is best left there for future artists to discover and be inspired from - not here in Rob Marshall's awkward Nine.

Component Grades
5 Stars
4 stars
DVD Experience
4.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray/DVD - May 4, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
: English, English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1


Commentary Track:

  • With director Rob Marshall and Producer John Deluca


  • The Incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis (1080i, 5:12)
  • The Women of 'Nine' (1080i, 10:47)
  • Director Rob Marshall (1080i, 6:27)
  • Behind the Look of 'Nine' (1080i, 8:21)
  • The Dancers of 'Nine' (1080i, 4:39)
  • The Choreography of 'Be Italian' (1080i, 4:16)
  • The Making of 'Cinema Italiano' (480p, 2:53)
  • The Choreography of 'Cinema Italiano' (1080i, 8:37)
  • Sophia Loren Remembers Cinecitta Studios (1080i, 12:52)
  • Screen Actors Guild Q&A (1080i, 43:14)

Music Videos:

  • "Cinema Italiano" featuring Kate Hudson (480p, 3:48)
  • "Take it All" featuring Marion Cotillard (1080p, 3:41)
  • "Unusual Way" featuring Griffith Frank (480p, 3:41)

BD-Live functionality

Sony's MovieIQ connectivity

Movie Trailers:

  • The Road
  • A Single Man
  • Extraordinary Measures
  • Not the Messiah
  • The Young Victoria
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • The Back-Up Plan
  • Dear John
  • An Education
  • Michael Jackson's This is It.