Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nine Lives

I've just run across an extraordinary little movie called Nine Lives. It came out in 2005, and although it has one of the most amazing casts you could ever hope to assemble, it was passed over by the general public. It was probably ignored by the public because it received only a limited theatrical release, which is a shame because it's a special movie. It's the story of 9 different women at particular moments in their lives. Those moments might be their time in prison, their chance encounter with an old lover, or maybe visiting the cemetary with their daughter. It's told as 9 separate stories, making the movie play like a short story collection. Sometimes the stories overlap, sometimes they don't. A wonderful thing about the stories is that they're all shot in single unbroken takes, occasionally seeming like a gimmick, but mostly working as a way to let the actors act their parts in real time, making them that much more powerful in their key moments. Nine Lives was written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, son of legendary author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and it has the subtle attention to detail that one would expect from great literature.

Each story is designated by the name of the woman who's the focus of the story. My favorite of the stories is the chance encounter one, "Diana", starring Jason Isaacs and Robin Wright Penn. They run into each other in a grocery store after many years since they were together. Both married, she's pregnant. They make small talk and go their separate ways, but he comes back to tell her he still thinks about her. The two actors are astounding in the piece, trying to put on their happy faces so that the other doesn't see how much they still care. Both of them unsure whether they want to say what they're feeling, or just leave it at the pleasantries. They love their spouses, but they hint at things that happened in the past, old connections and old wounds that they'd both love to tend to. "We're still 'Damian and Diana'. And we always will be."

My other favorite is "Lorna", about a woman (played by Amy Brenneman) who attends the funeral of her ex-husband's wife. It's another story of things said and not said. And again, the actors are phenomenal. The amount of talent on display in this film is unbelievable. Holly Hunter, Kathy Baker, Sissy Spacek, Ian McShane, Amanda Seyfried, Glenn Close, Dakota Fanning, Joe Mantegna, William Fichtner, Aidan Quinn, Mary Kay Place, it really is one of the top ensembles I've ever seen. I understand that a movie that plays like a short story collection might not be the easiest sell, but I highly recommend that if you ever run across this movie, do yourself a favor and check it out.


Alec & Emma Davis said...

Sounds like something I'd enjoy watching. We'll have to look for it!

Kyle said...

I bet you would. Actually, I think a lot of people would if they would just be willing to take a chance on something a little different. Let me know what you think if you ever do get a chance to check it out.