Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Review: The Nines

The Short... An admirable attempt at a story that has ideas way beyond its own existence. While very enjoyable for the most part the film falls flat from being mishandled by a director who tries to cram in too many themes while attempting to simplify them. Fans of Donnie Darko may find something here.

The Long... I've been having difficulty in trying to properly explain the story of The Nines without giving away the whole plot. To explain one aspect means you have to clarify it with the next and so on. So, to summarize in as concise a fashion as I can manage, Ryan Reynolds plays three characters (an actor, a tv producer, and a games developer) whose lives become entwined in a complex system of numbers and coincidence. Hope Davis and Melissa McCarthy also appear as three separate characters in each of these lives.

Throughout the whole movie I kept being reminded of Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko (which happens to be my favorite film). Both films set up realms of their own which have important and specific rules that their characters must adhere to, or else the world as they know it will end. In Darko, the audience has this realm slowly and purposefully revealed to us in a way that is compelling and intriguing. In The Nines, however, I saw little evidence of control over the substance of the story and thus the film's quirks and revelations become stunted and their meaning diluted. That's not to say that The Nines is scattered or grossly inept, as the script contains quiet a lot of good work and displays a certain wit to many scenes.

Ryan Reynolds shows off an acting range here that was not at all apparent in, let's say, Van Wilder. As the film's lead he does a really good job of holding things together and gives each of the characters enough connection between themselves without playing each the same way. His supporting cast doesn't display that same range, but are adequate nonetheless. First time director John August, who also wrote the screenplay, does his best to contain the story and present it in a way that's meaningful (which he does quite well for most of the film), but it all crumbles in the final revelation.

There are certain ideas within The Nines that are indeed interesting and entertaining, but I wish they were handled in a different manner. We never feel like we've discovered or learned anything along with the main character(s) and the impact of the ultimate story arc is lessened. It's an enjoyable film with many positive points, but fails to deliver on these.

* * * (3 Stars)


Anonymous said...

Wow. I hated this movie. Was pretty excited to watch it because I like John August, but this is truly, truly terrible. I don't understand all the positive reviews. The "twist" is just flat not interesting, in movie form. Very little actual story here -- it's just an exercise, and one gone horribly wrong. Honestly, it's worth watching just to marvel at how awful a movie a guy with talent can really make.

patrick said...

The overlapping storyline of the Nines resolves itself nicely at the end... and, although Reynolds is a versatile actor, it was Melissa McCarthy who did a particularly great job of adding color to the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

WOW Anonymous I could not dis-agree with you more! Your intitled to your opinion of course, but in my own opinion you just didn't understand it in the end and thats why you didn't like it. This movie is one of those sit back and think about how we all sometimes get lost in our own lives that we create for ourselves, and I'm not sure you got the symbolism used in it. Try watching it again maybe. A truely great film, and all the actors should take a bow for the job they did.