It’s really nice when something comes along and totally catches you off guard as “Nine Days” does and will. It was truly fascinating, with an absolutely brilliant cast. Winston Duke is incredible.
Once you watch his passionate performance as ‘Will,’ you’ll find it impossible to imagine the role going to anyone else. He is Will, a man who sits alone in a little house that’s in the middle of nowhere, watching videotapes of people going through their lives. And based on that description alone, you need to see this. Is that review enough? I didn’t think so, but to read further, I could be revealing too much and something you’ll wish you hadn’t heard about before sitting down to watch. Don’t say you were warned.
This is writer/director Edson Oda’s feature directorial debut. I’ll let you know this about it now that, though the movie does make a slight attempt at being a love story, that never fully materializes. In fact, the hint of it seems to be there only to throw you off course more than anything. Instead, what’s here is Oda’s look at life and death. Using the character of Will the way he does, is a concept which sprang to mind when the director lost a family member due to suicide. His uncle was fifty when he killed himself. Oda, who was relatively young at the time, was moved to look at what everyone else was neglecting to examine any further. While friends and family were gathered about, the topic was why he died. Why he killed himself. But Oda was fixated on why his uncle lived instead.
This brings us to Will. As I said, from the couch in the little house, he watches multiple screens of people living their lives from their POV (Point of View). He knows them all yet seems to be hyper-focused on a violinist named Amanda (Lisa Starrett). Much of the film centers around his fixation on her. It’s mainly through this character that you get to enjoy the powerful score by Composer Antonio Pinto. The music is, in a word, gorgeous and something you’ll appreciate being able to savor.
As the story unfolds, you realize that ‘Nine Days’ is about existence. It’s also about opportunity, and it’s about death or, more effectively, loss. Because of a loss, Will begins to welcome a group of people into the tiny house. He has a helper with him by the name of Kyo (Wong). Kyo can only do so much because he’s not as qualified as Will. Before long, they begin to process these individuals for something. He tells them that they’re being assessed for life. They are to replace the one he had zeroed in on for so long because, as he was watching his screens, enjoying her every move, Amanda’s screen went black. Who could replace this lovely soul? As he meets them, Will, with no emotion in his voice, begins asking them questions. As he does, you can’t help but assume that he’s judging them on what they say and how they speak to him. Do they move on based on their reactions or replies, or are they sent somewhere else? With not much to go on coming from Will, the “applicants” are nervous, some more than others
Each character has an interesting feature about them. Some of the individuals are focused on more than others, but what is revealed through their use is what’s so compelling about this script and the idea behind the film. Without giving away much more, Oda gets quite complex, abstract even. It’s filled with meaning and hope; everyone goes through a metamorphosis of sorts, and before it’s over, you may, too.
“Nine Days” by Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Edson Oda
Writer: Edson Oda
Starring: Winston Duke, Benedict Wong, Zazie Beetz, Bill Skarsgard, Tony Hale, Arianna Ortiz and David Rysdahl
Cinematographer: Wyatt Garfield
Composer: Antonio Pinto
Runtime: 2h 4m
Genres: Fantasy, Drama
Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Mette-Marie Kongsved, Matthew Linder, Laura Tunstall, Datari Turner
Production Co: Nowhere, Juniper Productions, Oak Street Pictures, Baked Studios, The Space Program, 30West, MACRO, Mandalay Pictures