As Penelope Cruz sashays into her song "Guido", I was already in awe of the spectacle before me. Such is the power of Rob Marshall's "Nine" that hours after watching this musical, I was still humming songs from it!
Guido Contini (Daniel Day Lewis) is a brilliant but self-centered director who is pressured to start his next movie. And just like his previous works, the process requires him to "suffer" - and so he is! His muse (Nicole Kidman) is demanding for a script that doesn't exist. His mistress (Penelope Cruz) follows him around like a lovesick puppy. His dead mother (Sophia Loren) whispers encouraging words everywhere he goes. Vogue columnist Stepahnie (Kate Hudson) is seducing him for scoops. And his grieving wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard) is slowly losing patience and gradually letting him go. His only confidant is his wardrobe consultant Lilli (Judi Dench) who encourages him to make use of the talent he has, i.e. telling stories that move people. But Guido is drawing a blank! And time it seems is running out on him!
I love musicals, and I can only imagine the visceral pleasures of watching this play on Broadway! So far I am content with the movie - for now! It was such a joy watching Penelope Cruz. She will be the one to beat during the Oscar derby for the Best Supporting Actress! Whaddaya know! She won! My other favorite numbers were Marion's "My Husband Makes Movies" - sung so effortlessly! And of course, Nicole Kidman's "Unusual Way" (which Barbra Streisand lovingly interprets elsewhere).
Sophia Loren is adorable, and so is the young actor who played the child Guido - Giuseppe Spitaleri! What a cute kid!
Lastly, this should be a fitting homage to director Anthony Minghella (one of my favorite directors of all time - who directed "The English Patient") who co-wrote the script with Michael Tolin. (Story goes, Minghella handed his script to Marshall just before he went to the hospital - where he eventually expired!)
This musical is a dark tale of the parsimonious world of film-making; a tale of narcissism! For those who love their musicals frothy and fluffy, try elsewhere! This one's strictly for the thinking adults!
Penelope Cruz keeps surprising us. She opens the musical numbers with an sensuous rope-hugging number, "Guido". She purrs, "I am lusting for more. Should I settle for less? I ask you, what's a good thing for, if not for taking it to excess? One limitation I dearly regret; There's only one of me I've ever met."
Talking about a "real movie star", Nicole is luminous as Guido's main star Claudia. She coos, "In a very unusual way, one time I needed you. In a very unusual way, you were my friend. Maybe it lasted a day. Maybe it lasted an hour. But somehow it will never end."