REVIEW: NINE is a slicker than slick piece of Oscar bait, boasting a top notch pedigree, and superb cast, and exquisite production values. Visually, its a stunning piece of work, and it strikes a nicely nostalgic tone, examining the mid-sixties Italian film boom, spearheaded by directors like Federico Fellini- who's 8 1/2 is the basis for this film. If NINE were a straightforward drama, it would be one of the best films of the year.
Now, Im not familiar with the Broadway play this is based on. On stage, it might have worked, but as a film, filled with actors that cant sing, the whole thing just comes off as a big flop. I have no idea why, whenever a studio decides to do a big musical, they never actually hire singers to act in the films, and with the exception of Fergie, who has a tiny role, none of the actors in NINE are accomplished singers.
While star Daniel Day-Lewis may be one of the worlds greatest actors, he's no Gene Kelly. He's badly miscast, and every time he opened his mouth to sing, I cringed. His singing brings to mind Sylvester Stallone in RHINSTONE, or Burt Reynolds in THE LAST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it become a youtube joke in a few months. When he's not singing, he fares a lot better, but I also could have done without his over-the-top Italian accent. Perhaps the producers would have been better off actually hiring an Italian actor for the part. This is truly a bad case of mis-casting, and hopefully this will be Lewis' first and last foray into the musical genre.
For me, the highlight of the film was the beautiful Marion Cotillard as Guido's neglected wife. Her striptease number, 'Take It All' is the sexiest thing in the film, and the idea that Guido would cheat on her is laughable. As for Nicole Kidman- playing Guido's muse, I'm afraid this is not a comeback film for her, as she's just bad here as she was in AUSTRALIA, and THE INVASION. I also think she's had a bit too much botox, as her face looks a tad immobile throughout- which is a shame, as Kidman's the last person who'd ever need cosmetic surgery to improve her appearance.
Overall, I found NINE a pretty lousy musical, and not anything I'd recommend seeing, unless you absolutely loved director Rob Marshall's previous Broadway adaptation, CHICAGO. If, like me, you thought it was overrated, then it's best to skip this all together, as this is one play that should have been left on the Great White Way.