The Nines is the kind of movie where to review it and include too much summary…is to destroy it. This isn’t because it’s an O’Henry story, but more because of the building emotional content of the film. It’s structured in three parts with the same actors in different roles. The first part shows a drug-rehab actor under house arrest. The second shows a TV writer trying to get his vision made into a series. The third shows some version of that TV series, with a family hiking in the mountains.
Ryan Reynolds plays all three lead roles, and he’s spectacular. I’ve always liked him in movies like Waiting and other comedic fare, but here he’s given a chance to really give a nuanced performance, and he does so beautifully. (I hope the movie gives him a shot at other roles of this nature.) The interconnections with the other cast members, also superb, build to an ending that, against all odds, works. In part, this is because the core of the movie is the relationship between Reynolds’ characters and Melissa McCarthy (of Gilmore Girls fame), as well as Hope Davis, both of whom give excellent performances. The editing is also excellent, and contributes to the sense of unease and tension throughout the movie. More than this, I really don’t want to say, but I do urge you, if you haven’t heard of this forgotten 2007 release, to check it out.
After watching The Nines, which we came across cold on on-demand, I did look at the reviews of the movie. Frankly, I’d never heard of it before. Although many of the reviews were very positive, some referred to it as “Twilight Zone for the twenty-first century” (wrong–the movie isn’t reliant on a twist) and others as “a poor man’s Adaptation.” This second label bothers me because although both movies use what might be called post-modern techniques, they are, to my mind, entirely different techniques. I also thought The Nines was a much better movie than Adaptation (a good film that falls apart in the third act).