A Splendid Little Film that Challenges the Mind and Forges New Ground
Feb 2, 2008
THE NINES is a film that may seem like a tough story to follow, but the concept and the 'autobiographical' script by the gifted John August are so fine that once seen, this film demands re-visiting. It is tremendously entertaining, blessed with a superb cast, and offers food for thought far beyond the running time of the film. For this viewer it falls into the 'brilliant' category.
More of an existential exercise than a traditional movie tale, THE NINES has the courage to challenge our concept of that is the real world, what is fantasy, what exists beyond our concept of our 'space' here on planet Earth, and just how significant is the current obsession with television reality shows and videogames on the way we are stuck in the present. John August explores these issues by interweaving three stories, using the same actors to change vantages and personalities to raise questions and pose problems for the audience to attempt to resolve. It works.
Part I ('The Prisoner') views the life of a famous television personality Gary (Ryan Reynolds) who naïvely takes on a 'crack' trip that results in a house arrest controlled by a jovial officer Margaret (Melissa McCarthy) and whose only outlet is a neighbor Sarah (Hope Davis) with whom he has a seductive affinity: while both women appear real, events occur that make their existence questionable to the crack-addled Gary. In Part II, 'Reality Television', Gavin (Reynolds) is a television writer attempting to get his pilot film accepted by executive boss Susan (Davis), but falls into troubled times when he is told his best friend Melissa (McCarthy) must be dropped from the project. In Part III, 'Knowing', Gabriel (Reynolds) is a gentle videogame creator, happily married to Mary (McCarthy) with a daughter Noelle (Elle Fanning) who has been weaving in and out of the film as different characters, gets stuck in a forest and in attempting to seek help encounters Sierra (Davis), a strange woman who finally approaches the possibilities of Gabriel's 'mission on earth'. The title of the movie becomes apparent when Sierra informs Gabriel that while God is a 10, human beings are only 7s, koala bears are 8s because they control the environment, and Gabriel is a 9 - an extraterrestrial being in a human incarnation to test the goodness of the earth. How this information affects Gabriel and how the story is resolved is yet more of the intellectual exercise and joy of THE NINES.
Ryan Reynolds is extraordinarily fine in his three roles: he is a far better actor than the usual films he makes would indicate. Hope Davis and Melissa McCarthy are as always reliably excellent. But the magic of this film comes form the mind and direction of John August who thankfully gives the audience much to ponder. It is a gem of a film. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, February 08
An actor has a bad trip after a bad breakup and ends up in house arrest -- but either he is losing his mind or he is not who he thinks he is and things are not what they seem. This is one of those metaphysical puzzler films, that is fun and engaging at a number of levels but at its deepest has you working out what it all means. In films like this you think they are going to back down from the broadest ambitions, that it's all going to be a dream or a game and everything will work out so that you … more
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Worlds collide in most unusual ways inThe Nines, marking the feature directorial debut of John August, screenwriter of such offbeat wonders asBig Fish,Corpse Bride, andTitan A.E.. Ryan Reynolds plays Gary, a Hollywood television actor whose crack cocaine escapades land him under house arrest. A no-nonsense publicist (Melissa McCarthy) who specializes in rehabilitating bad-boy stars for public consumption keeps Gary in line until a sexy neighbor (Hope Davis) makes him wonder if his reality is truly all it seems to be. Indeed, once the question is asked, another world washes away the last one: this time Reynolds plays Gavin, a TV showrunner whose best friend (McCarthy) is dropped from his new series after a network executive (Davis) manipulates him. A watchful viewer ofThe Nineswill begin to note that certain themes and bits of dialogue overlap the first two segments of the film, and that certain key lines (e.g., "Youre not a man") are laced with double meanings. A haunting resonance, a sense that everything is imbued with some unknown quality or secret, overtakes ones deepest experience of the movie. That feeling only grows in the final third of the story, in which Reynolds becomes Gabriel, a doting husband and father who leaves his wife (McCarthy) and child (Elle Fanning) with their stalled family car while he fetches help. Along the way he meets a wary stranger (Davis), and nothing is the same again. Everything loops into everything else in Augusts clever ...