The Nines DVD review

A neat little film, telling a trio of stories, The Nines is well worth adding to your rental list, reckons Carl.

Ryan Reynolds in The Nines

When this film was released in 2007, I knew no one who had heard of it, until after it left cinemas a week later. It was a huge bummer that I never got to see it on the big screen, so was glad to catch up with it on DVD. I’m a bit of a fan of Ryan Reynolds, so I’m glad to see he’s branching out into the independent film world, and along with that, a bit of a trip of a film.

The Nines tells three different stories. There’s a movie-star’s world that collapses around him in a haze of drugs and fire, and is taken care of by his PA. Then there’s a television writer tries to get his pilot picked up and struggles to do so, in a reality show themed section. And finally a family get stuck in the woods when their car battery dies. The three stories use the same actors playing different characters, and the story pulls together the characters in some way or another.

In truth, The Nines doesn’t fit the normal rhythm of a film. It’s a little bizarre, in many ways, as it tells a story in three different ways, each ending with a reveal that makes you see more, or know more about a certain aspect of the story. It makes it a shame that two of the three sections are brilliant, and one is mostly pretty boring. The film drags itself around the middle, and makes it feel a little less whole. The first and end sections though, are thoroughly entertaining in dramatically different ways, and pull the film out of its stumble in the middle.

Ryan Reynolds, who plays the main character in all three sections shows off his acting talent in a wide variety of situations, and proves that he is worthy of much more that just romantic comedies and action films. In a strange way, I think this might be his best role. I’ve seen him in a lot of things, and no characters he has played have been this fleshed out and meaty. Even if the film suffers a little due to starting and stopping a continuous story line, one thing that remains strong is his work in it.

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The film’s script itself ranges from confusion to humour to embarrassment and back round to confusion again. There are even some scenes that border on madness, changing the tempo of the film entirely, only to go back to the original pace and leave you utterly confused yet again. But then, working on a film like this could boggle your own mind, so it could really explain itself. Let’s be honest, there isn’t much I can say about a plot so neatly woven, I could unravel it with a single word misplaced, so I’ll leave that alone for now.

The direction and cinematography in this film is very deliberate, with many of the extras explaining the ideas behind it to a huge degree. In some ways, it was quite meticulous, as each section of the film was shot with a different camera and each has its own theme. For instance, colours were controlled (as much as is possible) in each section, with the first section being mostly reds and the final section being mostly blues. As well as this,  handheld documentary-style cameras were adopted for the second section, to give it a true feeling of a reality television show. It gives a very separated feel to the film, and may be a contributory factor to its troubled promotion, and limited box office take.

As true as this is, I still feel a certain affection for The Nines. With a first time director, John August, the film isn’t necessarily unheard of, but it is a small picture. I liked its tendency to drift away from the plot, to reveal something you didn’t think of, somewhere else entirely. The way each story intertwines is an impressive device too, making the film thought provoking, and also a talking point to be dealt with appropriately in the extras section.

Talking of which,the DVD is chock-full of interviews, commentaries, documentaries, and deleted scenes. The interview with John August is especially enlightening as to the connections made in the film and the theories built around it. As well as this there is a short film, God, also by John August, and starring one of The Nines’ actresses Melissa McCarthy, who uses almost the exact same role in the film under the same character name.

The short film’s commentary is actually very insightful, not only into the short itself, but also the reason it was included on this specific disc. In some of the documentaries and commentaries, Ryan Reynolds is given a voice to comment on his own part and adds an interesting twist into already particularily labyrinthine film. It’s only a shame that he mentions an out-takes reel, which would be fantastic to have, but is missing from this DVD. Annoyingly, most of the extras go over the same story sections and theories multiple times, thus creating a slight feeling of boredom.

Still, the movie is the main focus here, and that is, in my eyes, pretty damn good. It’s only a shame that it isn’t strong enough to be watched a lot. It’s definitely an enjoyable film, and at some point, will definitely deserve a second watch, but it doesn’t seem necessary, and that is what leads to its lower-than-expected.

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In conclusion, it’s not a bad film, and it definitely deserves a watch. A rental will do it justice, though.

3 out of 5


3 out of 5