I’ve been hearing that folks don’t like NINE, and that they are pulling it from theatres because of tepid reviews, and weak box office. I am probably among the few who actually liked this film despite its flaws. The cast is an extraordinary one, and has been used in ways that appeal to me. Who wouldn’t want to see Fergie heavily made up (she never looked better) in clothes falling off her, carousing in the surf before a gaggle of gawking pre-teen boys whose libidos are ready to burst?? No one ever straddled a chair more suggestively. She easily delivers the best musical number in the show, second only to Penelope Cruz’s erotic turn on a rope and a swath of satin, in a bustier and stockings, with her adorable rump front and center and full-out retro-sexy spillage. She’s scrumptious. Then in descending order of titillation is the adorable, sweet-sad Marion Cotillard (has anyone else mentioned her saucer-eyed resemblance to Fellini’s actress/wife Giulietta Masina?) in a poignant striptease, a companion piece to Cruz’s(she’s The Wife to Cruz’s Mistress) laying her body and her soul bare before a gaggle of overgrown boys(better known as lost middle-aged men) in a heart-breaking backroom tour de force. And let’s not underestimate the giggly jiggly sixties number that Kate Hudson writhes to (inescapably channeling Goldie). But here things begin to fall apart;Kate is trying a tad too hard, and doesn’t look effervescently fresh. She looks a bit puffy and under the weather, especially in the scene where she attempts to seduce THE FILMMAKER: played by Daniel Day-Lewis. He is marvelous in the role–perhaps more high strung than Marcello, without that Italian louche-ness. But he certainly captures the wit, and a cerebral sexuality that intellectual artists exude–he is after all hung up on a script that just won’t take shape in his brain. (His scene at a news conference deftly cajoling a gang of rabid press made me embarassed to have ever been among them.) Perhaps all these muses can help him??? But certainly not the stiff -lipped Nicole Kidman, who continues to annoy me. She has sacrificed her flesh and blood (her sensuality) for a mannequin-like perfection. Her song is dreary. She’s boring. I want her to stop getting botox and lip injections and just let it go!!!!! I remember interviewing her as a young girl with her turned up nose and freckelled white skin. Now she seems like someone escaped from the taxidermist, and it does not help her performance in this Italiano romp. As for Sophia Loren–I don’t care what she does onscreen at this point. I’d watch her stare at the camera and just breathe, or read the phone book, as they say, or ride around in an open convertible with Daniel past the colosseum as she does here. The same goes for Dame Judi; she is flawless. She imbues the tiniest, most insignificant line with potent innuendo, giving it meaning far beyond what anyone else had a right to think it might mean. Her musical number is flat-out sexy, top hat (or was it a bowler?) and all.
OK. NINE might not be a ten or even an 8 1/2. It is not particularly emotionally engaging, and perhaps the musical sequences are overly-edited; maybe there’s only one memorable tune:”Be Italian ” which is stuck in my head, and maybe it’s because I’m half Italian, but I loved watching this film, flaws and all, and I think you might too. Andiamo.