Federico Fellini always made such extravagant films that it’s no surprise that they’ve proved ripe for song. Nights of the Cabiria was the first to be reinvented, becoming the Broadway hit Sweet Charity, before the legendary Bob Cabaret Fosse made a movie of the musical in 1969. This time it’s Fellini’s most perplexing and iconic work 8 1/2, that gets the Broadway to movie adaptation treatment with Nine with the patronage of Rob Chicago Marshall in the director’s chair.
Marshall who turned Chicago into a Best Film Oscar winner has opted for a less kitsch and more artistic aesthetic for Nine. It’s a mélange of devices, some taken from Fellini’s classic which places the action firmly in the 1960s whereas the Broadway show which first played in 1982 had a very 80s feel, the hits from the musical have been topped up by three new tracks and it’s all caked with elements made to appeal to younger audiences, ranging from a succession of fast edits to the use of Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas as a prostitute.
Daniel Day-Lewis puts on an Italian accent to play the world famous movie director Guido Contini, who’s suffering from artistic block as he prepares to make Italia, his ninth and most ambitious picture. It’s only the fourth movie that Day-Lewis has made since he went into semi-retirement in 1997, but it would have taken a tough man to turn down a role that involves being fawned over by some of the most famous girls on film, Marion Cotillard plays his wife, Penelope Cruz his mistress, Nicole Kidman his actress muse and Kate Hudson’s a Vogue journalist who’d do anything for a scoop. The only women not bedding Guido are his costume driver and confidant played by Judi Dench and in a terrifically symbolic piece of casting Sophia Loren as his mother.
Day-Lewis shows a previously unseen penchant for song and dance. Cruz, though, is the real star turn with a very sexy number. But in parts it’s flat, and some more melodrama or plot would not have gone amiss.
General release from Sat 26 Dec.