Nine Days

With its mere concept, Edson Oda’s feature film debut, Nine Days, certainly had the potential of falling victim to an avalanche of clichés that would only be further piled on with winces and eye rolls from the audience. However, the way Oda confidently composes and presents the film to us, he is careful not to portray the existential subject as corny or even pretentious. Rather, through a variety of characters, he highlights the ways in which ordinary people approach and appreciate the world around them and even themselves. 

"it is a sweet and thoughtful film sprinkled with moments of wonderfully simple joys that will make the audience reflect upon their own lives"

In a remote house in the desert, Will (Winston Duke) spends his days monitoring a wall of televisions that display the lives of individuals through each of their own unique points of view from the comfort of his couch. But when his favorite person, a young violinist named Amanda, unexpectedly dies, there is now a vacancy, and Will must judge the next soul to fill the spot. Soon, a select number of unborn souls that carry their unique perspectives and personalities - Bill Skarsgård, Tony Hale, Arianna Ortiz, David Rysdahl, and Zazie Beetz – arrive at Will’s doorstep, and over the next nine days (if they make it that long) are subjected to his numerous tests in determining whether or not they may live. But through this process, Will is pushed to confront himself and his past when the free-spirited, slightly-dissident candidate, Emma (Beetz), forces him to do so.

The thing that makes this film work is its modesty. It never makes claims of importance in an attempt to reach the status of profound. Its stays grounded in the dialogue, characters, production design, and shots. An overwhelming majority of the events take place in Will’s house, and very seldom stray far from the location. The house itself is simple, organized, and nostalgically decorated with box televisions and VHS tapes. There is a patience in the scenes that benefit from many static shots that allows the film to figure itself out, rather than spoon-feed the audience with reason. And with any explanation that is given, Oda’s writing keeps it simple. He gives us just enough so that we can understand, even if the characters themselves do not fully understand themselves.Nine Days

The rupture of Will’s simplistic life and job comes from Emma, who seems to embody the heart of the film, when she shows Will that life is not always black-and-white. Simple answers cannot and should not always be given. She is not afraid of being open with her emotions and curiosities by questioning Will at almost every turn. But these attributes are things that not only frustrate Will, but he also fears for her if she enters the harsh, unforgiving world that he painfully experienced and is reminded of everyday. Despite this, Emma’s instincts point to her belief that simple things in life can be memorable, instead of just fleeting. And things that do indeed makes us feel alive should, over everything else, be cherished forever. 

Sure, the message of the film borders on cheesy, but who cares? It’s all about the delivery. Overall, it is a sweet and thoughtful film sprinkled with moments of wonderfully simple joys that will make the audience reflect upon their own lives as Will did with his own (though probably not in the same dramatic way). And, like I said, it could have been pretentious, but it is not. Trust me. Sometimes a film comes along that reminds us that we should appreciate living life a little bit more, and Nine Days does just that.

Nine Days is now playing in select theaters.

4/5 stars

Film Details

Nine Days

MPAA Rating: R for language.
124 mins
: Edson Oda
Edson Oda
Winston Duke; Zazie Beetz; Benedict Wong
: Drama | Fantasy
Life Begins at the End.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Sony Classics
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 6, 2021
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: Will (Winston Duke) spends his days in a remote outpost watching the live Point of View (POV) on TV’s of people going about their lives, until one subject perishes, leaving a vacancy for a new life on earth. Soon, several candidates — unborn souls — arrive at Will's to under go tests determining their fitness, facing oblivion when they are deemed unsuitable. But Will soon faces his own existential challenge in the form of free-spirited Emma (Zazie Beetz), a candidate who is not like the others, forcing him to turn within and reckon with his own tumultuous past. Fueled by unexpected power, he discovers a bold new path forward in his own life.


Nine Days