Let me be honest from the beginning-generally I am not crazy about the musicals. I loved the original Chicago with Ruthie Henshall and Ute Lemper, Mamma Mia is fantastic and The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Garou was truly memorable but other than that I give musicals a miss. However, I did like Rob Marshall’s cinematic version of Chicago and was very much looking forward to seeing Nine, which opened in December. It also turned out to be the perfect movie to see just before Christmas.
The film revolves around a famous Italian movie director named Guido Contini (Daniel Day Lewis) and his relationship with various women, including his belated mother, played by Sophia Loren, his wife (Marion Cotillard), his muse (Nicole Kidman), his assistant and dress maker (Dame Judi Dench), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), a prostitute (Stacy Ferguson, aka Fergie from Black Eyed Peas) and a journalist (Kate Hudson). I have to admit that for no obvious reason Daniel Day Lewis is not my favourite actor but in this movie he lives and breathes his character, he looks Italian and looking at him I suddenly realised that Day Lewis is a genius of an actor. He draws you in and keeps you there throughout the whole film, never letting you go-and remember, it’s a very ‘light’ movie.
Judy Dench’s character is very witty but she completely blew me away with her musical number ‘Follies Berger’ which was so fantastic and fun, and a little bit naughty too. Penelope Cruz, on another hand, is both cute and vulnerable but she looked particularly breath-taking during her early singing number in deliciously cute underwear-she truly sizzles and gives ‘sexy’ its true meaning.
Marion Cotillard is one of my favourites and so far I liked her in all of her movie, but here she is both vulnerable and strong. She might not be the prettiest in this picture but her face is luminous and her manner is such that you pause for breath and just want to wrap your arms around her. She reminds me of the ‘old style movie stars’ with her talent and her manner.
I also got two very distinct surprises in this movie. Fergie, who is a professional singer, played her small role perfectly. She can act and delivered her songs with a skill I never expected from her. It must have been difficult to be playing in the movie with well-known actresses but she had her niche, she played her role and she does leave an impression that she is more than capable to act. Kate Hudson, the sunny, bubbly mini version of her mother, Goldie Hawn, delivered what was, to me, one of the best and strongest musical numbers in the film. She not only sang perfectly but she danced, showing a great sense of rhythm and subtle sexiness which made me want to start dancing on the tables and have as much fun as she was having on screen.
My late grandfather used to adore Sophie Loren and I remember her picture on his bookshelf. Years have gone by and the bella Senora re-appeared, playing the mother of director Contini and in a way making this film complete. She still looks regal and glamorous but hers is old-fashioned glamour of the times past. Her poise, her dignity and her beauty truly prove that a true woman is beautiful at any age.
My only disappointment in the film was Nicole Kidman, who seemed very predictable, very ‘her’-as I have seen her before many times. She is beautiful but she lacked something here, maybe it was her wardrobe choices that were too obvious, maybe it was something else….
I left the cinema feeling light-headed and optimistic. The movie was directed by Rob Marshall, an American, but the film was truly European to my eye- light, sad, funny, mesmerising. There are too many movie nowadays that you will watch only once and not be tempted to see them ever again. I am sure to buy ‘Nine’ when it comes out on DVD and will watch it on gloomy or quite evenings, to make me feel happy and inspired.