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Volume 71, Issue 48, Thursday, November 3, 2005

Life & Arts

'Nine Lives' features a few too many tales

By Zach Moore
The Daily Cougar

Tired of films that portray everyday life in such unrealistic ways that they make you think you are the only one in this world who doesn't have it all together? 

Nine Lives takes off the rose-colored camera lens and presents audiences with nine vignettes chronicling the lives of nine different women each going through a unique personal crisis.

If you're looking for a cohesive plot and a thought-provoking message, however, this is not the movie for you. Though the narrative structure is inventive, there is little story to support the radical format. The audience is taken from one tale to the next, with transitions existing only in the form of title cards featuring the name of the main character of the next segment.

Some may defend Nine Lives as an anthological commentary on the human (and more specifically female) condition. It is more comparable to two hours of channel surfing, watching various scenes from different shows.

Many of the vignettes are indeed compelling -- in particular, the opening segment, "Sandra," which features a woman in prison who is trying her hardest to be a model inmate to win the good graces of the staff in hopes of getting an early release and being reunited with her young daughter.

The audience cannot help but feel sympathy for the woman, but at the same time they are left to wonder why she has been incarcerated in the first place. Obviously she has committed some crime and is serving her sentence to pay for her actions. Sandra is presented as a victim, yet she was the one who broke the law. 

A fleshed-out plot could explain her motivations and would go a long way in helping the audience connect with Sandra and feel for her situation.

A theme that Nine Lives tries to convey is that all people are connected, no matter how unrelated their circumstances may seem. 

This idea is expressed through at least one character from one vignette appearing in another, no matter how small the role. For instance, we get to see Sandra being arrested in a later segment, but it is from afar at a hotel, and again, no specifics are given. 

Other than that one instance, all the other crossovers are ineffective in that the characters are so different from segment to segment they might as well be different parts played by the same actor.

Besides the style in which the story is presented, Nine Lives is also unique in that every vignette is presented in one continuous take. Each segment lasts approximately 10 minutes, and the actors stay focused for the duration, which is an impressive achievement. The handheld camera approach also makes for some novel shots and adds to the everyday-life feel of the movie.

Nine Lives tries to be many things, appealing to women from adolescence to the golden years and everywhere in between. Although some segments are unquestionably out of place, others, such as Sandra's story, make viewers reflect on their own life and where their choices have taken them. 

Maybe if the film were re-titled Three or Four Lives and the time and focus put into the worthwhile stories, like Sandra's and select others instead of the hopelessly random ones, it would be a memorable film of merit. 

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