2010-02-07

When nine is less than eight and a half

Hollywood successfully americanized Fellini.

You can read on, but it will go downhill from here.

I saw "Nine" the other day, based on good reviews and the true-to-style trailer. I am not a big fan of musical movies, but the singing was the least problematic part of the film.

The play is based on Fellini's "8 1/2" and pays appropriate hommage to the Maestro by quoting some of his most famous frames and capturing the style. This is where the similarities end.

"Nine's" protagonist, famous film director Contini is portrayed as a likeable, well-meaning, though lost and confused man, who in the end finds his way to himself, a new great movie, and also wins back his wife.

The happy ending killed the movie for me.

I realize that Hollywood's goal is to appeal to the masses, but I fail to understand why someone would pick "8 1/2" (or any other Fellini film) for a musical. Granted, I did not see the play on stage, and do not know whether it also has a happy ending, but the interpretation of Contini's character is 100% in the director's hands.

Fellini's Guido Anselmi, played by Mastroianni, is nowhere close to the cut-and-dry "good man." He is struggling with his own identity as he realizes that he is failing as a director in both the film he is making, as well as the movie of his life.

When the film ends, we are left not with a warm-and-fuzzy feeling that "everything is going to be allright," but rather at the point where the realization of this crisis is the most acute.

Why the makers of "Nine" had to doubt Fellini and take the play "two years later," where the troubled Maestro comes around and makes a movie about a man who fights to win back his lover, and his wife returns and smiles upon him, is beyond me.

But maybe I just don't know how to appreciate a good movie.