The Nines (film, 2008)


From Death Ray 12. Warning: it’s rammed full of spoilers.

FOUR STARS

2007/15/96mins

Director: John August

Writer: John August

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy, Hope Davis, Elle Fanning

God in is in the machine… Literally.

If you don’t want The Nines spoiling, then go away after the SPOILERS COMMENCE! warning, okay? It’s going to be hard to review this properly without spilling the metaphysical beans that sit at the heart of the film’s three, interlinked stories. The concept isn’t hard to guess for clued-up SF fans, and nor does knowing it ruin the film, but for those of you who really don’t want to know, you have been warned.

Safe stuff first then. The film has outstanding performances. Ryan Reynolds in particular proves his versatility thrice over as a TV star under house arrest after a crack bender, a family man computer game programmer and, almost unrecognisably, as a gay screenwriter. It’s one of those films, like Donnie Darko, where weird shit happens. In The Nines’ case the parallel lives of these men, whose stories are each confined to an individual act of the movie, start to bleed into one another.

If you are a dyed-in-the-wool rationalist who likes their cinema tied up in bows, we suggest avoidance. Mood, tone, and a playful approach to film structure are more important to The Nines than traditional narrative. Things like characters knowing stuff they would not know… SPOILERS COMMENCE!

…especially Melissa McCarthy being aware of the nature of her existence after the world is periodically reset, will annoy some of you up. Reset how? Reynolds is a computer game-addicted transdimensional being, a “Nine” (humans are “Sevens”), you see, who’s been playing several avatars at once for 4000 years.

That’s the spoiler, and the crux of the story, but the film is as much about notions of love, being and celebrity as it is a vehicle for the “our universe is The Sims!” concept. Some will find the ending unsatisfactory, but to others Reynolds’ bemused realisation of his divinity and dazed withdrawal from the world will seem no less than fitting.

A dreamy, thoughtful film, it’s a restful experience, the cinematic equivalent of  sitting in a tranquil garden, though, admittedly, you are less likely to argue with your other half about a garden.

Did you know?

The house that plays such a central role to The Nines belongs to writer director John August.

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