March 24, 2020

THE NINES and the Strange Addiction
THE NINES (2007)
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy, Hope Davis, Elle Fanning, David Denman, Octavia Spencer. Directed by John August. (99 min)

Review by Fluffy the Fearless😸

I know all about addiction.

Without going into specifics, all I’m gonna say about my personal addictions is that I know I couldn't have beaten them alone (thank God for my wife and Librium). I also know that, depending on how you’re wired, it’s possible to become harmfully addicted to damn near anything.

Despite the sci-fi leanings of its intriguing concept, I think The Nines might ultimately about addiction and intervention. At least that’s what I got out of it, perhaps because my own experience gave me a level of empathy for its protagonist that someone else might not have. This is especially true during the film’s resolution: The main character understands conquering his addiction is a good thing, but the final farewell is still painful and heartbreaking, like saying goodbye to a trusted old friend you’ll never see again.

A watched pot never boils, Ryan.
But one could watch whole film without picking up any of that. For all I know, writer-director John August had no aspirations beyond providing an intriguing puzzle. It’s a code-laden mystery in three acts, each unfolding like a stand-alone story with the same actors playing different characters. Or are they? It turns out The Nines is not an anthology film. The stories are actually chapters with clues dispersed throughout each which gradually ties the whole thing together.

To actually try to explain the plot itself would spoil some of the film’s biggest surprises, but while it gets off to a slow – even mundane – start, our interest level increases when seemingly insignificant moments, such as a message on a Sticky Note, take on great importance in later chapters. The overall tone changes as the film progresses, from dryly comedic to subtly foreboding.

The pieces fit neatly together during the climax. Whether or not the final picture is worth waiting for depends on the viewer. Some will have it figured out beforehand, others might be underwhelmed. Personally, I found the denouement surprisingly poignant, admittedly because I could personally relate to the main character’s addiction. Whatever the case, The Nines is a criminally overlooked little mindbender worth checking out.


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