Written and Directed
by Rodrigo García
Running Time: 1:55
for language, brief sexual content
and some disturbing images.
Nine Lives was an interesting film definitely geared towards women, but a film I could appreciate.
Nine Lives tells the stories of nine different women. Some of the stories are loosely connected, and there is no real time frame given. Each story is 10-15 minutes long, and all done in one, single steadicam shot. There's the story of a woman and a man who meet each other in a grocery store and relive a past love. There's the story of a woman and her daughter visiting a graveyard for someone very special. There's the story of a young girl forced to become a mediator in her home between her mother and invalid father. There's the story of a woman in prison, trying to do her time and see her daughter on visiting day. And there are a few more stories.
Each story is short, and has no beginning or end, but manages to tell a complete tale in about 10 minutes. The performances are what keep you interested, and the fact that each story is short helps. But surprisingly, at least to me, each story was moving in its own way. I enjoyed Robin Wright Penn as the woman who runs into an old flame in the grocery store. They haven't seen each other in years, but there was something very serious between them at one point in the past. It obviously happened a long time previous, since both are married and she's pregnant, but their expressions show so much in such a short time. From surprise and happiness to shock and sadness and confusion. Should we stay and talk? Or is the past too much to bear? I also enjoyed the last story, with Glenn Close and Dakota Fanning visiting a cemetery. It was a sweet tale of a mother and daughter visiting someone they loved, but it was a not-so-surprising twist that while I saw it coming, still was moving. The other standout story in my mind was of the girl who had to be in the middle of her parents. Her father was in a wheelchair and needed a lot of help to do normal, everyday things. Her mom seemed very tired and the girl was caught. She could have moved out to college, but chose to stay home with her parents, a choice that no one liked, but everyone pretended was the right thing to do. The girl, played by Amanda Seyfried, was again able to show a lot of emotion with just an expression. She wanted to put on a brave face for everyone, but inside she was dying to get out.
A couple of the stories I didn't appreciate. The one with Lisa Gay Hamilton as a woman with a bad past relationship with her father who comes back to confront him. It was fairly obvious what had happened to her at the hands of her father, but her actions seemed strange. Why did she come back now? If she loved her sister so much, why did she leave her behind? Was there something else going on I didn't see? Then there was the story with Amy Brenneman going to the funeral of her deaf ex-husband's second wife. First off, that relationship was strange. Why was he deaf? Was there a reason behind that? I never saw why those two were together, why their relationship was so strong. And their resolution at the end was a bit too much for me. The other stories had their moments as well that you could take or leave.
It took me until the second story to realize that the entire sequence was one single shot. I think that's one reason why all the main characters were top of the line actors and not necessarily 'popular' ones. You need people who can not only memorize lines, but can memorize movement and feel. Sometimes it's not as hard to shoot single shots if there's not a lot happening and people are standing around talking. But when you're in a grocery store and there are people in the background you have to worry about as well as moving in and out of the aisles, it can be difficult. So it's impressive that you don't really notice anything different and yet at the same time, you feel closer to the people than you do in a normal film. There are no quick cuts back and forth for reactions, you actually feel like you're right there with the characters, watching this from up close. It makes the movie seem warmer and pulls you in to the stories. It was a brave choice and one that paid off.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Nine Lives. It's not for everyone, and men especially may not appreciate it, but women definitely will. It has a lot of great female actors (and a few good male ones as well) and with each story being under 15 minutes, flows very well. Worth a watch.
Netflix lets you rent, watch and return DVDs from home – Now from only a month!