Knowing that Rob Marshall directed "Chicago", I was expecting something fast-paced and exciting. I hate to say I was disappointed, because that would imply I did not enjoy the film. I did, it just ended up surprising me. "Nine" tells the tale of brooding director Guido Contini and the many women who influence his life and his career: his muse, his mother, his mistress, and his wife among them. It's based on the 1982 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn gets its inspiration from Federico Fellini's "Otto e Mezzo" or "Eight and a Half". Viewers will note the similarities between Fellini and the fictional Contini, which was completely intentional on Fellini's part, who wrote the original film during a bout of 'director's block' of his own.
The pace of the movie may seem odd - as it did to me - to viewers, but it's important to remember that it's made to mimic the "Art Film" style.
Viewers will note many stylistic similarities to Marshall's earlier "Chicago". All of "Nine's" musical numbers occur in imagination of the characters. Most of the songs are set on one stage - the sound stage of Contini's next film. Also, viewers will recognize the quick cutting between fantasy musical numbers and the actual plot-related scenes.
I enjoyed the use of both black-and-white and color throughout the film, as it consistently blurred the line between the Contini's real life and the life he "lives" through his films.
Content-wise, all I can say is it's rated R for a reason! Scantily-clad women and unapologetic sexuality are just some of the delights you'll find inside.
The film is set between 1965-1967. I have to say it's difficult to see how accurate the movie was, considering the 60's are so very 'in' right now. I could say that Kate Hudson's - who plays an American reporter for Vogue - skirts may have been a touch short for 1965, but then again considering her fashion-driven career, she would have been among the first to wear such short skirts, and it in Italy it wouldn't have been such a huge deal. I will complain that the hair was a bit flat, but I think that's more a matter of design than realism.
Finally, I will say that Marion Cotillard's performance was stunning - especially her second song, "Take It All". I'll be rooting for her at the Golden Globes (and maybe the Oscars, who knows?)!
If you're expecting another "Chicago", do not go see this film. The fact that Rob Marshall directed both these musicals on film is just about where the similarities end. One is a Kander and Ebb romp through the Roaring Twenties, the other is a moody Maury Yeston (composer and lyricist of Titanic and Grand Hotel) look at the underbelly of the creative process. If you are willing to delve into this style, however, I promise you will get a real treat out of this excellent film.