The catalog for this year’s Sundance Film Festival came this week, which was my first chance to see what everyone else’s first impression of The Nines would be. The festival organizers write the descriptions for the films, so you’re sort of at their mercy. Fortunately, John Cooper wrote up a very nice blurb for The Nines.
Three actors–Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis, and Melissa McCarthy–are a delight playing different roles in the three different scenarios that comprise John August’s film The Nines. In “The Prisoner,” a troubled television star finds himself under house arrest with his chipper publicist and disillusioned neighbor providing his only link to the outside world. “Reality Television” is a Project Greenlight-style show tracing the behind-the-scenes tribulations of a half-hour sitcom. And in “Knowing,” an acclaimed video-game designer and his family have car trouble on an outing and find themselves stranded deep in the woods.
Writer/director August is firmly at the helm of this unique film. The three stories are linked to each other on a metaphysical plane, forming a stylish puzzle of coincidences that questions the underlying notions of both life and art. Does the creator have a responsibility to his or her creations? If we shape the lives we lead on any level, why not on all levels? Are we or are we not responsible for our own happy endings?
If you need tidy conclusions to these and other questions films sometimes pose, The Nines may not be for you. But if you love great writing, direction, and performances and are willing to ask questions, The Nines offers an upbeat, as well as enlightening, adventure.— John Cooper
My only correction would be in the first paragraph: Part 2 concerns a one-hour drama pilot, not a sitcom. The hijinks are more harrowing than hysterical. And for the record, he doesn’t mean that kind of “happy endings.” Shame on you.