Nine * *

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Director: Rob Marshall.
Screenplay: Anthony Minghella, Michael Tolkin.
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Ricky Tognazzi.

Sometimes you need to weigh up your options. Either you go by the director (who happens to have made one of the worst and most overrated films ever with “Chicago”) or you go by the actor (who has delivered consistantly memorable performances in his career with “My Left Foot”, “Gangs of New York” and “There Will Be Blood”). In this case I went with the actor but that still didn’t save a poor director, poorly plying his trade.

1960s Italy. Once-celebrated film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) struggles with his unwritten script for his comeback film. Looking for inspiration, he turns to his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his wife (Marion Cotillard), his muse (Nicole Kidman), his confidante (Judi Dench) and his childhood memories to solve his crisis, with unsuccessful yet well-sung results.

I really wanted to like this film as I’m a big fan of Daniel Day-Lewis and the impressive cast of females has rarely, if ever, been bettered. However, I’m not big on musicals or director Rob Marshall for that matter. Thankfully, this is not quite as bad as Marshall’s overrated stinker “Chicago”, but it isn’t much better either. Day-Lewis was my main reason for attempting this and considering he’s quite fastidious in his choices, I thought I’d follow his lead on this one. I was wrong and so was he in choosing this meandering borefest. The look of the film is gorgeous, as expected, with fabulous production design and cinematography and the ladies (oh the ladies) look amazing and deliver their song and dance numbers competently. Having Judi Dench in a corset was just a tad too much for my liking though. It was around this point in the movie that I realised this thinly veiled attempt at recreating a muscial of Frederico Fellini’s “8 1/2” was a great waste of talent.

A lush and extravagant musical that has style in abundance. Substance is what it lacks though, leaving a great cast struggling to save it from tedium. Suited to fans of the genre only.

Mark Walker

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