03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Movie Review: Nine Misses the Mark

Forget the provenance of Nine for a moment and consider it solely as a movie unto itself.

Rob Marshall's musical is a dreamy, sometimes nightmarish journey by a single man - movie director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) - whose muse has deserted him, though its female embodiment (or the plural thereof) is grabbing at him from all sides.

Indeed, the women in Guido's life, who have served as his inspiration in the past, now seem to be draining him without even realizing it. Even as he struggles to figure out what his next movie is going to be about (it's supposed to start shooting in a week), the women are pawing at him for attention, for favors, for time.

Nine is a tour of Guido's imagination and memory, writ large as a musical. Not a musical comedy; there aren't many laughs in the script by Michael Tolkin and the late Anthony Minghella (though it's not a straight drama, either). But it's a musical, nonetheless, in which the songs seldom serve the plot but, rather, are used to delineate character.

Each character in this adaptation of the Maury Yeston-Arthur Kopit Broadway musical is given one song (two for his wife), which reveals who she is and what she wants. But because they are all singing in Guido's mind, their numbers mostly take place on the faux Coliseum set, backed by scaffolding, that has been erected for his still unwritten film on a sound stage at Cinecitta Studios in Rome.

Fans of the original musical may be disappointed that a large chunk of the original score has gone by the wayside as Marshall and crew put together their adaptation. Marshall pays much closer attention to the musical's original source: Federico Fellini's ground-breaking 1963 film, , the Italian maestro's autobiographical paean to the magic of film-making. Continued...

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