The plot seems like a novel idea. Whenever you think about a past relationship, there are certain things that stand out more than others—copious amounts of copulating and concerts would probably be among them. In that aspect, 9 SONGS is an interesting (albeit shallow) cinematic interpretation on perspective, flashing back and forth between memories without transition. However, the film ultimately fails because director Michael Winterbottom doesn’t allow the audience to connect to the characters emotionally. Every time we see Matt and Lisa, all they do is screw or stand and listen to music. Whatever little voiceover or dialogue there is seems pointless and doesn’t tell us anything about them. At no point during 9 SONGS did I care about either of the people or their relationship. I will hand it to Kieran O’Brien and Margo Stilley though. They’re completely fearless in their performances, uninhibitedly participating in some of the most graphic sexual acts ever captured in a “serious” film. Brave as they may be, they’re unfortunately not very good actors.
Sadly, the live performances from some of today’s “hippest” musicians aren’t much more interesting than all the love bumping. 9 SONGS features a bunch of indie acts, including Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Franz Ferdinand and The Von Bondies. As a lover of rock concerts, the majority of the live footage here is disappointing. Somehow Winterbottom completely misses out on all the amazing energy you get from going to a show, opting to sit the camera down in the crowd and record everything lifelessly.
If you’re looking for a movie just to see two people do the wild monkey dance, check out EYES WIDE SHUT or THE DREAMERS. At least those flicks told an interesting story.
9 SONGS: The Music: An option to just watch the performance footage for each band. Useful if you want to skip all the sex. (Wow, I still can’t believe I’m saying that…)
Cast and Crew Interviews: Half an hour worth of Q & A with director Winterbottom and stars Kieran O’Brien and Margo Stilley about the film’s T & A. Actually, this is a pretty good feature, covering the “concept” behind the movie (which to Winterbottom is apparently more than just “sex/music”), the filming process, and each of the player’s individual thoughts and reservations about the more raunchy scenes.
Bonus Material Featuring the Band: Music videos from The Dandy Warhols, The Von Bondies, and Elbow. There’s also a chance to “meet” Elbow. If you’re into this kind of music, this feature will no doubt be of interest to you. (My personal opinion…the bands are good and their songs catchy, but I don’t think any of these acts are going to save rock and roll, as MTV would have you believe.)
The disc is rounded out with a Photo Gallery, Theatrical Trailer, and some Previews for other releases by Tartan Films. (The trailer for OLDBOY was better than 9 SONGS itself.)