"Nine" is a musical about a movie director who's out of ideas. Its director is Rob Marshall and maybe he was out of ideas too, since he chose to film "Nine"'s musical numbers in an almost identical fashion to his last musical, 2002's "Chicago." Is Marshall's choice a commentary on the creative bankruptcy of his protagonist or just plain old creative bankruptcy? It's fun to argue the former but hard to believe it's anything but the latter.
As inspired by Fellini's masterpiece "8 1/2," "Nine" follows "Maestro" Guido Contini (Daniel Day Lewis) as he assembles his latest picture, which will be called "Italia" and star his muse Claudia Jenssen (Nicole Kidman). The only problem is, "Italia" is a production without a script, a problem that also plagues "Nine," a gorgeous collection of people and sets and costumes all beautifully photographed by Dion Beebe with very little to admire in the ways of story or dialogue (Again, metatextually, this movie is a near perfect blend of style and content). The women, appealing as they are, basically sit around singing about how much they love Guido, while Guido wanders around moping and whining. His story is supposed to be tragic, I guess, but it's hard to work up much sympathy for a wealthy, successful, popular filmmaker who spends all his time sleeping around with hot chicks just because he can't decide what to write about.
Instead of channeling Fellini or Marcello Mastroianni (who managed to make that "dilemma" genuinely sympathetic in "8 1/2"), Day Lewis appears to have prepared for his role by watching lots and lots of "CSI: Miami," studying the way David Caruso takes on and puts off his sunglasses for dramatic effect. I'm not sure why he decided to go with a Bela Lugosi accent, either. When he sings, it sounds like outtakes from Jason Segel's Dracula puppet musical from "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."