This musical, a hit on Broadway in the 1980s, was inspired by Fellini's 1963 movie, 8 1/2, a dreamlike self-portrait of a director in turmoil.
Now, under the direction of Rob Marshall, who made Chicago, it has returned to the screen starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido, a celebrated Italian film-maker who's stumbled against a creative block. On the run from his producer and the press, he drifts into a fantasia on the women who have shaped and haunted his life, including his mother (Sophia Loren), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his muse (Nicole Kidman), his costume designer (Judi Dench), a Vogue journalist (Kate Hudson) and – the single poignant performance – his wife, played by Marion Cotillard. "You're just an appetite," she tells him, forlornly. Day-Lewis himself is passable, despite having to speak English in da ee-tal-yano accent and undergoing a "crisis" that hardly deserves the name. The desultory structure doesn't help the film, its rhythm shot as each of Guido's ladies interrupts the narrative to belt out a number. As for those songs, well, Sondheim can rest easy. You will not tap your toes, you will not come out humming, you will not want to hear their like – "Those scenes I love to see/ From Guido's p.o.v." – in a very long time.
'Nine' opens today