(director: Rob Marshall; screenwriters: Michael Tolkin/Anthony Minghella/Broadway musical “Nine” by Arthur Kopit, Mario Fratti & Maury Yeston; cinematographer: Dion Beebe; editors: Claire Simpson/Wyatt Smith; music: Andrea Guerra; cast: Daniel Day-Lewis (Guido Contini), Nicole Kidman  (Claudia), Penelope Cruz (Carla), Marion Cotillard (Luisa Contini), Sophia Loren (Mamma), Kate Hudson (Stephanie), Judi Dench (Lilli), Fergie (Saraghina), Ricky Tognazzi (Dante, producer); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: John DeLuca/Rob Marshall/Marc Platt/Harvey Weinstein; The Weinstein Co.; 2009)

“Feels as if this filmmaker doesn’t know a Fellini from a linguini.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The hit 1982 Broadway musical “Nine” was based on the hit 1963 autobiographical Fellini directed movie “8-1/2.” Nine is kept tacky by director Rob Marshall’s (“Into The Woods”/”Chicago”) inadequate way of filming it. It also fails because it lacks substance. The awkward homage film to the renown Italian director Fellini feels as if this filmmaker doesn’t know a Fellini from a linguini.

The music overall disappoints. It doesn’t transfer well from Broadway-to-Hollywood, as the Broadway book by Arthur Kopit and the lyrics by Maury Yeston seem unable to breathe on the Left Coast. Writers Michael Tolkin and Anthony Minghella’s lackluster dialogue make it forgettable when compared to Fellini’s memorable version.

If you need more reasons to think Nine is closer to being rated a Zero than a Ten, it should be noted that the infamous convicted Hollywood serial rapist Harvey Weinstein is the lead producer for this Weinstein Company feature.

You might think at least that since the great actor Daniel Day-Lewis is in it that it couldn’t be that bad, the only thing is that the Brit actor is miscast in a role that he lacks the charm to play the alter ego part of the Italian director Fellini (Day-Lewis was a replacement for a tired Javier Bardem). In this film, Day-Lewis is called Guido Contini, a genius director of the Sixties struggling to put the movie he visualizes on the screen while having a creativity block after his last two films have flopped. It seems Day-Lewis’s struggles to do Fellini couldn’t be sillier or that he’s more lost in a role that he’s not suited for (as you can see, he’s no Fellini despite putting on a fedora).

The musical Guido is making is about the women in his life, and they all sing to him — his dead mother (Sophia Loren-who still looks sexy but talks through her singing number and acts like she’s mummified), his wife (Marion Cotillard-who rates two songs “My Husband Makes Movies” and “Take It All”), his mistress (Penelope Cruz, who does an injustice to the number “A Call From the Vatican”), his current muse (Nicole Kidman who satisfactorily sings “Unusual Way”), his wife’s costume designer and his confidante (Judi Dench- who admirably sings in a French accent for her Folies Bergere number), his American fashion journalist (Kate Hudson-who tanks in her extravagant number of “Cinema Italiano”), his whore (Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas, the film’s only real singer and it’s best, puts herself fully into the foot-tapping film anthem “Be Italian” and gives it some amore).

It ends with the lapsed Catholic Guido searching for meaning in life and asking forgiveness for his sins, singing stiffly in a bad accent “I have nothing to say” and ending it all by singing in front of the entire cast “What’s a good thing for if not taking it to excess?”

REVIEWED ON 3/18/2020  GRADE: C+