I’m not a big fan of musicals. Oddly enough, though, when you marry a big fan of musicals, you end up watching a tremendous lot of them regardless of your pre-marriage inclinations towards the genre. I can recognize a good one. Chicago-for instance-is a film I really don’t like tremendously, but I can tell you it’s a really well done musical. I use the example of Chicago, because Rob Marshall, the director of that film, made Nine. Nine is, not to mince words, not a good musical.
Call me insane (and so very very many professionals have) but a musical should probably have at least one song that, twelve hours after viewing, remains hummable in the viewer. I cannot hum one bar of one song in this movie. The plot, such as it is, surrounds tortured Italian filmmaker Guido Santini (whose name I can recall since one thing about the songs is that the name “Guido” is incorporated into all of them) trying desperately to pull a masterpiece out of his tortured hindquarters. The device developed in Chicago where everyone freezes and we go inside the mind of one of the characters to experience the musical numbers is recycled here to much less effect. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Guido and is certainly good as he always is, but the character is so unsympathetic that you never connect with him. He’s really wasted in the film. As are: Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, and Sofia Loren who somehow was convinced out of retirement to do almost nothing. It’s wonderful to see her onscreen, but once the novelty of seeing her passes, you wonder why she’s there.
Penelope Cruz got an Oscar nomination for playing Guido’s mistress, a role that-from what I could discern-involved pouting, patting her naughties during a solo number, and looking wan and forlorn. The only thing I came away stunned by and the person who diserved an Oscar nomination from this film was Marion Cotillard as Guido’s jilted wife. She was absolutely fantastic and in a film filled with the best actresses in Hollywood, she stole the movie. So if you love her, then there’s you reason to sit through this, but it’s the only one I can offer.