I have a pretty forgiving film taste, working on the policy that if its good, who gives a shit. But if they're was a genre I have irrational prejudice against, it would be the musical. From one cynic to literally tens of others, unadulterated expressions of joy and euphoria, often found in this kind of thing, get right in my miserable little face. Then I have to think, that musicals can be so much more then that. They can communicate a full spectrum of emotions in a manner that moves beyond words, as music can certainly do that. Plus I count Singin in the rain amongst my favorite films, so I believe what I am chatting is shit. Except for when its not.
Anyway, Nine despite being innately more worthy in terms of subject matter then director Rob Marshall's Chicago, coz its about movies see. And you know character and stuff. Rather then just fit women in fetish wear, although to be fair Nine is kind of about that too. But to my surprise, in between the lavish and often trite songs, came some surprisingly strong character work. Not all the time mind. But its this that stops me trashing this movie, which feels too often stagey, too often forced and contains what is to be honest some quite forgettable and weak musical numbers. The wrong side of bland guys.
The plot sees Guido Contini (Daniel Day Lewis) run into a creative brick wall on his latest movie, and draws on the various muses he has experienced in his life to revive his vision. In this respect Nine kind of becomes a musical Barton Fink sans violence and darkness. To be clear This isn't a Daniel Plainview performance from Day Lewis, and he kind of takes the back seat in his own story, allowing the women to be the focal point of attention. He looks the part, even if his singing is only OK. As far the singing goes, the strongest musical beats belong to Fergie and Kate Hudson, but as far as the acting goes I would say that Marion Cotillard, as Contini's put upon wife Luisa. She is the only performer who succesfully communicates her character through the musical segments, bringing a genuine emotional heft and solemness to her numbers. And its something this movie could have done with having more of. A genuine reason for the songs to be there, rather then just because this is a musical. They need to serve a purpose really, and be something more then just flash. And perhaps Nine's main mishap is the disconnect to what feels at times like it should be an intimate character piece, and then we get a big in your face song which serves no real purpose.
Fans of musicals will like it, and I do admire its attempt to tell a grown up story at times, but at the heart of it its kind of a crappy musical in an otherwise well handled movie. Not really deserving an Oscar nod though.