MUSICAL DRAMA; 1hr 58min
STARRING: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren
That’s amore: from left, Cruz, Day-Lewis and Cotillard
As director Guido Contini (Day-Lewis) sits in a sound stage in Rome’s Cinecittà Studios in 1965, he imagines a lush number from his unrealised movie. A bevy of stunners — Cotillard et al — sashay onto the set, and Guido drapes himself around them like a man smothered in bonbons. It doesn’t get much better than this, and nor does patchy razzler Nine, forgivingly directed by Chicago’s Rob Marshall and adapted from the Broadway musical that was inspired by Italian director Federico Fellini’s fantastical, soul-searching 1963 drama 8½.
Like the director in that film, Guido-as-Fellini is fresh out of concrete ideas. But he’s not short on signorinas: his wife (Cotillard), his lover (Cruz), his costume designer (Dench), a saucy prostitute (Fergie), a flirty Vogue reporter (Hudson), his muse (Kidman) and his magnificent mama (Loren) haunt his imagination.
Each lady has her tentpole number, choreographed by Marshall with swoony panache and delivered with showy gumption — if not, in some cases, the pipes to pull it off. Day-Lewis does haggard glam as well as he does everything, but Guido is a selfish pain and his mismanaged life only blossoms in the spotlight. That’s showbiz?