Review: Nine DVD

STUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: Rob Marshall | CAST: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren
RELEASE DATE: 5/4/2010 | PRICE: DVD $28.95, Blu-ray $38.96
BONUSES: commentary, eight featurettes, three music videos; Blu-ray adds Sophia Loren featurettes, Q&A with cast, movieIQ feature
SPECS: NR | 119 min. | Musical | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

At once an homage to both Federico Fellini and Bob Fosse, Rob Marshall’s film version of the acclaimed Broadway musical Nine is appropriately filled with visual razzle-dazzle, great looking women and eccentricities galore. But then so were Fellini’s , the official source material for the play, and Fosse’s All That Jazz, his introspective singing-and-dancing-and-womanizing homage to the maestro filmmaker and his classic film.

In all of its incarnations, Nine’s themes of infidelity and creative block remain the same. Here, Guido Contini (Daniel Day Lewis), a leading Italian writer-director during the 1960s, is about to embark on his ninth film. The problem is that, despite all the commotion centered around him from the media, his producers, and the women in his life, Guido can’t figure out what to do. In hopes of getting to the task at hand, he looks to all of his female acquaintances—from mother (Sophia Loren) to wife (Marion Cotillard) to mistress (Penelope Cruz) to reporter (Kate Hudson) to actress (Nicole Kidman) to assistant (Judi Dench) to whore (Fergie)–to plant the seeds of inspiration that will lead to his much-anticipated newest work.

Working with a script credited to the late Anthony Minghella and Michael Tolkin (The Player), Marshall, continues with the quick-paced cutting technique that may have annoyed classic musical purists but led his Chicago to Oscar glory in 2002. Here Marshall also adds genuinely esoteric touches, some of them successful and some of them not. For example, we keep going back to a spare soundstage in a movie studio that supplants the film’s overall showiness with a haunted quality.

Each actress is also given at least one big production number, many of which are enjoyably kitschy homages to 1960s Euro-style and the actresses’ own inherent sexiness. Unfortunately, the chain-smoking Lewis never appears comfortable as Contini, who just fiddles around in his mind while his women in Rome burn. Fellini, in the guise of Marcello Mastroianni, nor Fosse, in the guise of Roy Scheider, would have never have stood for this.

The DVD comes packed with extras, so we give the package a higher score overall.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.