I’m not sure I completely understood The Nines, the ‘psychological thriller/drama’ by writer John August in his directorial debut, but I did enjoy it. Here’s what I thought it was: I think it was a meditation on the writing process, about the creator and his interaction with his creations, the destruction that the creator brings to his characters, and the power inherent to this. Does that make sense?
I’ve been reading John August’s blog for a while now; he writes intelligently and clearly about the scriptwriting process and provides advice to new screenwriters. He first came to my attention to with Go, a film I enjoyed a lot. He also also done great work with Tim Burton (e.g. Big Fish), which helps you forgive him for Charlie’s Angels (although that was more to do with McG). The Nines is a bold experiment for him, but he’s warranted the achievement.
I don’t know if I can accurately describe the film, but I’ll try. The film is in three parts, all about three different men played by Ryan Reynolds. In the first part, he is a successful TV actor under house arrest for accidentally burning down his home after the break-up with his girlfriend. The second part sees Reynolds as a television writer (based on August’s own experiences), bringing his new show to the screen with his best friend, who the studios want to replace. The third section sees Reynolds as a games developer, out with his wife and kid in the canyons, who has to get help when their car won’t start. All three sections are linked (the actor is staying in the writer’s house while the writer is in Canada shooting the pilot, the section of which is part of the actual film in the third section) and seem to involve the number nine appearing in unusual places (such as part of title of the actor’s television show). The film seems to be about the possibility that the Reynolds character is the same person in each but is actually some sort of God who has created these different universes for himself (the same people play different people in each: Hope Davis, Melissa McCarthy, Elle Fanning) and that he has forgotten who he is. Weird, eh?
The film is well written and well acted: Reynolds, known more for comedy and action, is great here, showing a range of emotion and making each of the three characters different from each other. Davis is good, as always, and McCarthy and Fanning are equally good. Shot on film and video and in 22 days, this is an intriguing and thoughtful movie that people will hopefully discover on DVD (although I don’t think the Region 2 DVD is as full as the Region 1 version, which is a shame, as I wanted to get the full package where August explains the film …). As the website describes it: Look For The Nines. You won’t be disappointed.