Synopsis: A film director juggles relationships with the numerous women in his life.
Release Date: November 18, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Musical, Drama
This film has no place in modern American cinema. It belongs to the long forgotten and cast aside brilliance of the International cinema of the Italians and the French. It is at once a linear progression and then disjointed. It begs you to question a man’s morality and the love of a woman, or many. To embrace the muse and realize the limitations of one. This is not an American film and it will not please an uneducated filmgoer, as harsh as that may sound. It is to be appreciated as a piece of art and the performance by Daniel Day Lewis as the Director Guido a showcase in how to be a tortured man whom you (we) love for all the ways he is flawed, unacceptable, and seemingly without hope. Or perhaps it is to be seen as a piece of cinema where the fetishization of women is prevalent and accepted. They are merely on display for Guido when his mind takes him out of reality and into a deep imaginative state. It has at its core a deep love story between a man, his work, and the women in his life: past, present, and near future. Yet it is also strongly focused on his egotism. His self doubt is a facade, a mere picture of what he does prior to creating greatness. Guido has lost his way though, and finding it through the myriad of obstacles he himself has put in front of him is no more easier than juggling seven women at once. Taking the journey with Guido may not be for everyone. For those willing to embrace something far from the norm it just may be a welcome treat.
One word: magnificent.
Music. It is a gateway to the soul. It is unfortunate then how the songs in this film for the most part do not enthrall, move the story forward, or offer much in character development. The lyrics fall flat; the performances more spectacle than substance. Penelope Cruz, as the mistress Carla, may be a sight as she performs her (almost) striptease but all is lost on an emotional level besides the onset of lust. Sophia Loren (Mother) will leave you breathless at her beauty and grace but her performance offers nothing. Nicole Kidman, the muse Claudia, sings of unfilled love but even her tears cannot make up for the lack of depth to the lyrics. Kate Hudson, a reporter who is more an oversexed fan, does put on a great show with her discotheque inspired ode to Guido the Director. As she shakes and shimmies the screen bursts alive with energy. Yet the tone and direction of the number feels gravely out of place, even if it is quite lively and fun. Judi Dench, the costume designer and friend, performs in a number more fitting as a Vegas show.
The saving grace for the musical numbers comes with Fergie, as Saraghina the childhood gypsy temptress, and Marion Cotillard, the emotionally bruised and battered wife Luisa. The song ‘Be Italian’ is performed by Fergie and it is unforgettable. The music and lyrics pulse through you as if a fire has been lit and it is burning you from the inside out. The song gets stuck in your head and you feel this need to belt out the chorus with the deepest voice you can muster. Then in the defining moment for Luisa she sings ‘Take It All’. The raw emotion from both the lyrics and her performance is undeniable. The vulnerability mixed with anger, mixed with an unforgiving stare, you are speechless for a moment. If you tried to speak words would be impossible. If it were not for these two numbers I would be have to say the film would have been better presented as a dramatic piece and not as a musical. These two songs and performances save it and help you to forget the forgettable that come before and after them.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Rob Marshall
- Producer(s): Harvey WeinsteinDaniel Day-Lewis (Guido Contini)
- Screenwriter(s): Penelope Cruz (Carla Albanese)Marion Cotillard (Luisa Contini)Nicole Kidman (Claudia Nardi)
- Story: Judi Dench (Lily)
- Cast: Sophia Loren (Mamma)Kate Hudson (Stephanie Necrophuros)Stacy Ferguson, Fergie (Saraghina) Claire SimpsonWyatt SmithDion BeebeJohn Myhre
- Cinematographer: Maury Yeston
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s): Effects Associates
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA