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“Nine” movie adaptation is jaw-droppingly awful (Review) December 27, 2009

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, Movies, musical theater.
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First, for the record, NINE is one of my favorite 3 Broadway musicals. I saw the original 1982 production 3 times in NYC, and the revival as well (which was already watered-down…pun intended).  But what Rob Marshall has done with the movie version of NINE is jaw-droppingly awful.

First, Daniel Day-Lewis is woefully miscast. He looks vaguely Italian, and acts vaguely stereotypically Italian — but he can’t sing well, and he’s not Italian. He’s also 10 years too old for the part, and this is reflected in lyric changes.

Second, nobody in this cast is Italian with the exception of Sophia Lauren, who mutters through her role as Guido’s mother, and looks strangely CGI-like. I can list twenty Italian and Italian-American actresses right now that could have been cast instead. It’s nice to see her in the movie, but Sophia herself looks like she would rather be anywhere but.

Third, despite the star power here, only Penelope Cruz and (surprisingly) Kate Hudson turn in anything worthy of musical theatre performance. Sadly, Kate Hudson does so in a role created for the movie that does not exist in the stage production, and her number (in black and white) is awful. Her entire storyline, song, and character could (and should) be cut. Still, she has energy that is palpable, as is Cruz’s. Marion Cotillard turns in a nice acting performance as Luisa Contini, Guido’s suffering wife. Too bad most of her songs are cut.

And therein lies the biggest problem — characters and songs are cut, added, moved around, and rearranged to the point that NINE the movie no longer resembles NINE the musical. Judy Dench as a seamstress sings “Folies Bergeres” instead of Lillian LeFleur. In fact, Lillian LeFleur is cut! “Be on Your Own”, the most powerful song in the show, is cut. In fact, more than 60 percent of the musical score is cut, as is the drama. The new songs added do nothing. (By the way, they add new songs to movie adaptations so that there is something to nominate for “Best Song” for the Academy Awards — any song already performed in a Broadway musical is ineligible for consideration). Nothing here is worthy of nomination, and most likely nothing will be.

I enjoyed some of Fergie’s “Be Italian”, but the production number itself is like a bad advertisement for Victoria’s Secret — it even has haze lighting! Haze lighting!! But I liked the choreography, and it has some life.

Nicole Kidman, the most over-rated and talent-free actress of our time, here continues her long history of displaying both her over-ratedness as well as her inability to act, sing, or carry a scene. Plus she looks fat. Rob Marshall must not have liked working with her too much, since  her part is cut down to a sliver, and he gives her the least flattering camera angles of all the ladies in the show. Half of her spoken lines are not discernible as “Unusual Way” is intercut with dialogue.

As in CHICAGO, Rob Marshall tries to open up the film — instead, what happens is that boundaries are lost, scenes become discontinuous. Ghosts wear colorful clothing. Black, White, and Color, so integral to the original musical, is completely lost here. The script is changed beyond recognition…Carla is weakened and given a suicidal plot! What??? Guido’s ultimate decision to shoot himself or not, is also cut.

I could go on. I will stop here. I had a very difficult time sitting through this movie, a story and score that I just adore. This is an awful adaptation. I give it a C as a movie, a D- as an adaptation of a stage musical, or one star for effort. Wait for the DVD. The movie adaptationn of Mamma Mia looks like a masterpiece compared to this awful adaptation, because it at least followed the original script with a sense of integrity.

For Musical Theatre purists….Songs from the score of NINE that are cut in the movie version:

The Germans at the Spa…Only With You…the Follies sequence of Folies Bergeres…Guido’s Vision…Nine…The Bells of St. Sebastian…A Man Like You…the duet portion of Unusual Way…The entire Grand Canal sequence…Simple…Be On Your Own…Getting Tall…and all underscore music of the second act of the musical.

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Comments

1. Karen - January 10, 2010

I agree with your review 100%! I too loved the Broadway musical but this is the worst movie I’ve seen at the theater in years! Sophia Loren looks horrible! It was appropriate for her to play a dead woman because she looks like a ghost! She’s spent WAY too many hours under the knife & she looks ridiculous, IMO. She is 74 trying to look 34! I would have left the movie in the 1st hour but I hung in there thinking it would get better. I was wrong!

2. Tisah - January 29, 2011

I completely agree with this review, I rented the DVD because I enjoyed chicago…
I was hugely disapointed I feel they hired big name actors (nicole kidman, penelope cruz….) to make up for the terrible plotline of the movie…I also felt the songs aside from fergie’s “Be intalian” wern’t at all intalian, NOBODY in the movie was actually intalian, had no intalian feel for me, infact the only reason the song “Be intalian” felt intalian was because Intalian was in the title, it also helped fergie sung it with a Intalian-esk accent (sort of-not really)

Awesome review I agree 100%


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