Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Women of Nine: Who's The Best?

When I heard the news that Rob Marshall would be returning to the musical genre to make the movie version of Nine, I was very excited. I'm not gonna lie, I love musicals and I loved his cinematic breakthrough Chicago. As the months rolled by and the ever growing cast of iconic actresses was announced, I could barely contain my hope and joy that this was going to be the film of the year; the big contender for best picture and the film to finally land Marshall his best director Oscar. Everything seemed to line up perfectly; a brilliant tony award winning musical, a mind blowing cast and an amazing trailer. What could possibly go wrong...
...Well apparently quite a lot. While it's beautifully shot, incredibly lit and well acted, the film was just missing something. The heart and soul of this movie are the women in the filmmaker Continis' life. From his wife and mother to his muse and costume designer, each woman plays an important part but who stole the show? Which one of these amazing Oscar winners and nominees is the best and who just seemed out of place? Here they all are in ranking order...

7th - Sophia Loren as Mamma Contini. 

In last place, but by no means least, is the iconic Italian actress Sophia Loren. Playing the ghost of Contini's late mother she sings, sorry, talk sings, her way through a sweet lullaby to her young son as the older Contini looks on. Although I'm sure the song is very sweet, I found it a little boring and forgettable. Still you've got to give Sophia Loren her due. She can still carry a tune and looks flawless for a women in her 70s. Good for you, Sophia, good for you.

6th - Nicole Kidman as Claudia Jenssen.

Originally this role was taken by a certain Miss Catherine Zeta-Jones, but apparently because her old mate Rob Marshall refused to extend the role, she left the project, opening the door for Miss Nicole Kidman to make her entrance. And what an entrance she made. She looked so stunning in that screen test scene, like 'is she even human' stunning? Playing the role of Continis' muse, Kidman was lucky enough to get to sing 'Unusual way', which is probably the most well known song from the musical and was my personal favorite as well. Unfortunately, I found Kidmans' version disappointing. They made a last minute change to the key to suit her voice and it lost all of it's emotional impact for me, sorry Nic.

5th - Judi Dench as Lilli La Fleur

I bloody love Judi Dench. She's one of those great British actresses who is in a league of her own. She's never been bad in anything and she isn't in this, even if she can't really sing all too well. OK, Dench can sing capably in a French accent and I rather liked the number, but it got lost in the sea of songs from the oh so many women of Contini life. I was also slightly confused by the relationship the two of them shared. Costume designer and close confidante, huh? La Fleur came across as a misplaced mother figure that seemed a little unnecessary for me. She did have a nice feather boa though.

4th - Kate Hudson as Stephanie.

Kate Hudsons plays a perky American fashion reporter with the hots for Contini. Whats his appeal?  The role was not in the original film or stage musical but Hudsons' natural charm and charisma shines through the screen with her fun and fearless performance as a lover of Italian cinema. This new song was very heavily criticized, with some/nearly all critics deriding it as shallow, cliched and unimaginative but I don't know why as I quite liked it. This new number added something to the film, giving us a burst of much needed energy amongst the more interchangeable songs scattered throughout. 

3rd - Fergie as Saraghina.

Fergies' background as a member of the Black Eyed Peas clearly helped her performance here, as she gets to show off her incredible voice and a surprisingly powerful screen presence, outshining even some of the biggest names here. Fergie also gets the big number, the show stopping hit 'Be Italian', which features one of the most impressive set pieces in the film by far. What helps Fergie out even more is that she has not really been given a dramatic scene to play but just a very elaborate music video, a very impressive one at that. Maybe Rob Marshall should make music promos instead of crap Pirate movies, just an idea.

2nd - Marion Cotillard as Luisa Contini.

This was a really hard choice for me to make, because I love Marion Cotillard so much and she was once again brilliant in Nine. Of all the women in Nine, Cotillards' character had the most material to work with. Luisas' role was fragile, honest and heart breaking. Cotillard is also the only actress who receives two songs to sing, lucky devil, and both display the range of her wonderful acting ability. From the soft and vulnerable 'My Husband Makes Movies' to the brash and sexy 'Take it All', this woman can do everything and that Oscar for 'La Vie En Rose' was certainly no fluke. So why wasn't she number one I hear you ask...?  

1st - Penelope Cruz as Carla Albanesse.

I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't the biggest Penelope Cruz fan before I saw her in this movie. Looking back, I'm not even sure why, but Cruz completely won me over here. Originally played in a Tony award winning performence by Jane Krakowski, the role of Contini's mistress is easily the best part and was played to perfection by Miss Cruz, who was the only one of the ladies to gain an Oscar nomination. It's easy to see why. Throughout the film, Cruz was unbelievable sexy, vulnerable and even funny. Combine all that with a musical number that completely stole the show and there was really no question that Cruz would be my number one, I mean just take a look at her performance. It speaks for itself...

While Nine does falls a little flat as a whole, there still is something very special about this film that I really enjoyed and that is its incredible cast of leading ladies. And while I felt the critics were a little/extremely harsh, I would still recommend seeing it, if only for the lavish musical numbers which stand out like pearls on a string necklace. I heard someone describe it like that once and I always liked it.
Feel free to let me know what you think. Do you agree with my ranking or do you think I'm talking a lot of rubbish?

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