Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

The Nines (2007)- Ryan Reynolds’ Interminable Descent Into Avant-Garde Whimsy

By Michael May 20, 2024

The Nines tells three short stories, the first of about an actor who is under house arrest after flipping over his car, the second is about a writer who’s pilot TV show is in jeopardy and the last deals with a video game designer lost in the woods after his car breaks down. All three stories are told with the same actors.

Review By Ben Dover:

Goodness The Nines, you egotistical, smug little riddle box of a film. The kind of self-indulgent whimsy and pseudo-intellectualism that gives avant-garde cinema a bad name is evident in this 2007 mind-bender that is impossible to resist. It claims to be a multi-layered, reality-bending investigation of identity, truth, and existence itself. However, in reality, it is nothing more than a derivative exercise in style that has absolutely no substance at all. It is a dizzying succession of trite metaphysical musings that appear to be profound revelations.

By dividing the increasingly complex narrative into a triptych of unabashedly high-concept vignettes, director John August makes his puckish intent abundantly clear from the very first frames. We begin in the world of a horror movie that looks like a haunted house and quickly transition into a glib behind-the-scenes satire of Hollywood vapidity before reaching its climax in a ridiculously obvious investigation of reality, truth, and omnipotence that looks like the Creator. All of it is very self-consciously meta and uses thematic gamesmanship in a wink-wink way.

August callously bludgeons viewers over the head with his Themes and Big Ideas, rather than using this unconventional structure to craft an organically mind-bending experience. Through each agonizingly prolonged conversation, one can practically hear his snickering condescension – “Get it? Get it? We are revealing the very nature of existence itself! Isn’t this delightfully intellectual? It’s like a first-year philosophy student who just discovered Descartes and can clearly smell his own farts of self-satisfaction in the movie.

Ryan Reynolds, who is hopelessly miscast and whose perpetually smirking charisma is woefully unsuited for the dramatically demanding mental gymnastics required, is at the center of this aimless wheel-spinning. The limitations of the former Van Wilder as a thespian consistently undermine any cultivated sense of narrative gravity or emotional resonance, and he struggles throughout the entirety of the film to sell the grand existential profundities.

Even though The Nines has a lot of annoying flaws and shows too much self-indulgence, there is still something admirable about its broad reach. It is a movie that dares to Dream Big by breaking with conventional storytelling and evoking significant psychosomatic epiphanies in its audience. Beyond reiterating a collection of tired meta clichés and uncooked brain teasers, it simply lacks the ability to carry out those lofty goals. a failure nonetheless despite its admirable failure of avant-garde boldness.

Release Notes:

The Nines was inspired by writer/director John August’s experiences on his TV series D.C.. He developed the script further over the years, partially making it a quasi-sequel to his short film God (also featuring Melissa McCarthy). The movie was shot over 22 days in LA and two days in New York.

Critics Consensus:

Critics 64% Audience 61% Rotten Tomatoes

The Nines doesn’t solidify as well as writer/director John August would hope for, Ryan Reynolds’s and Melissa McCarthy’s strong performances makes each of the film’s intriguing segments worth watching.


AI Images:

By Michael

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