Sunday, January 3, 2010

Review: Nine

Rob Marshall rounds Fellini's 8 1/2 up to Nine with sexy, albeit massively disappointing, results. Here we have a movie based on a Broadway musical based on a non-musical movie about making movies. I can't speak to what the show is like on stage, but I could write volumes about what's being lost in the translation from Fellini to Marshall. As a serious Fellini fan, I can say that this film would have the auteur rolling in his grave. I'd even argue that it doesn't take a Fellini fanatic to observe all that is wrong with Nine. It's pretty damn obvious. With Chicago, Marshall blended the stagy with the cinematic in a way that worked with the atmosphere and subject matter. It was pure Fosse, a film about stage performers without need of too much silver screen razzle dazzle. With Nine, Marshall misses the point entirely. 8 1/2 is a movie about movies. It's a delirious frenzy that beautifully captures the frustration of the creative process. Nine picks up only on the most superficial bits of its source material, the women and muddled relationships. As it attempts to be a musical about movies, it succeeds only in being tremendously (and perhaps ironically) stagy. Marshall attempts to build up his characters and the film as something of a Fellini homage but instead falters and gives American audiences a strange parade of silly, tangentially related song and dance numbers. Only Fergie (as Saraghina) appears at all Fellini-esque. Everything (and everyone) else is less grotesque and absurd than overtly serious about mugging and vamping for the camera. This may be my great love for 8 1/2 talking, but when placed anywhere near the original, Nine feels like nothing more than a very confused Victoria's Secret commercial....

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