'Nine Days' moved me more than any film in recent memory
NINE DAYS (2021)
Do you enjoy great movies? How about crying until snot comes out of your nose? Man, do I have a film recommendation for you.
In all seriousness, though, Nine Days moved me more than any film in recent memory. It's one of those movies that makes you step back and take stock of what's really important in life, and to be grateful for tiny blessings. Beautifully acted and brilliantly directed, Nine Days is one you won't want to miss (but have the tissues handy!)
Talk about getting off to a running start! First-time director Edson Oda wrote the beautiful tear-jerker of a script - though many of the film's most moving and heartbreaking moments take place in times of little or no dialogue. It's shot in a way that creates a sense of longing and melancholy, and Oda was able to pull emotion out of the talented cast that will leave you breathless.
Following the death of a young woman, a man named Will is tasked with interviewing five souls who are all eager to take her place. Throughout a nine day process, the souls perform various "tests" to determine who is the best fit, and Will needs to decide which one will make the cut and get the chance to be born. It’s a large undertaking: creating characters who put a human face on that vague feeling of existential despair (Why am I here? What does it all mean?) to which many of us feel at some point in life. Oda manages to do this beautifully, and in a way that neither comes off as pretentious or panders to his audience.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
As far as I can gather, there isn't a single loose cog in the wheel of this ensemble cast. Zazie Beetz is simply stunning, and her portrayal of a free spirit desperate for a chance at life makes her one to watch. Tony Hale - who up until this point I've known only as a comedic actor - gives a performance that is so full of raw emotion, resentment, hope, and fear that it darn near knocked me out of my seat. Winston Duke shows incredible range in his role as the spirit tasked with choosing the lucky soul that will get a chance at life.
I could single out everyone and give them a round of applause: Bill Skarsgard, Benedict Wong, Arianna Ortiz, and David Rysdahl all portrayed beautifully understated representations of the types of personalities we encounter throughout our lives.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
The beauty and grandeur of this film is in its subtlety and simplicity. The entire movie takes place in and around a small, dimly-lit house located in what appears to be some type of purgatory. Even the outdoor scenes have a surreal "set-like" quality that helps get across the idea that these characters are not quite dead - but not quite living.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The film score plays an integral role in making the movie so powerful. The most impactful scenes are set to a backdrop of beautiful orchestral music that helps push you, the viewer, over an emotional edge - but in the very best way.
Heart-wrenching and thought-provoking, Nine Days is the kind of movie that sticks with you long after it's over.
It's a stunning directorial debut for Edson Oda and a triumph of performances from the entire cast, and it proves that a film doesn't need a lot of bells and whistles to be incredibly impactful.