DVD review – The Nines (2007), Region 4, Madman

Sarah (Hope Davis) and Gary (Ryan Reynolds)
Sarah (Hope Davis) and Gary (Ryan Reynolds)

Screenwriter John August (Charlie’s Angels, Big Fish) makes his feature directorial début with The Nines, a metaphysical musing on the nature of fate and free will. Ryan Reynolds (Smokin’ Aces, Van Wilder) is Gary, a burnt out television star placed under house arrest. But Gary is also Gavin, a television writer who is the subject of a reality show, and both Gary and Gavin are also Gabriel, a computer game designer.

The Nines may sound like another tedious piece of cinematic pretension along the lines of Vanilla Sky, The Fountain, Southland Tales and Youth Without Youth but its snappy writing, humour and sly self awareness lift it above the usual ‘mess-with-the audience’s-mind’ indulgences. While its style and tone are different, its themes of confused identity, distorted reality and Hollywood artificiality evoke recent David Lynch films such as Mulholland Dr. and INLAND EMPIRE. While not as effective as a Lynch film – the explanation at the end for the reality meltdown is original yet a bit naff – the strong performances from Reynolds and supporting cast Melissa McCarthy (TV’s Gilmore Girls) and Hope Davis (American Splendor) make The Nines worthwhile viewing. 

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 320, 2009

© Thomas Caldwell, 2008

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