Nine is the film adaptation of the Broadway musicial Nine, which in turn was based on Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical film 8½. Daniel Day-Lewis is Guido Contini, a renowned director who's about to start work on his next picture, Italia. However Guido is blocked and hasn’t written a word yet, even though the sets have been built, costumes are ready, and his leading lady Claudia Jenssen (Nicole Kidman) has been cast.
Guido has taken on too much and now must juggle the various women in his life including his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard) and his mistress Carla Albanese (Penélope Cruz). Luisa suspects that even though Guido has said he’s stopped seeing Carla, it isn’t true (and she’s right). Meanwhile he’s confiding in his costume designer Lilli La Fleur (Judi Dench); being haunted by the spirit of his mother (Sophia Loren); and being chased by a fashion journalist for Vogue named Stephanie (Kate Hudson) who wants a scoop on the film as well as Guido himself.
As the movie progresses we learn Guido has been damaged due to his strict Catholic upbringing; he may have even been beaten in boarding school which leads to a flashback of his time in boarding school where Guido and his friends pay a prostitute (Fergie) to dance for them.
Guido needs to confront the ghosts of his past, get his head on straight, and make his film since many people are counting on him and since his last few films have flopped, so the pressure’s on!
While the plot is a bit weak, the sets, cast, and musical numbers are enjoyable. Daniel Day-Lewis nails his portrayal of the man trying to juggle too much and stay in control. Marion Cotillard portrays the long-suffering wife very believably, Penélope Cruz is great as Guido’s mistress who loves him and wants to go public with their relationship, while Judi Dench is perfect as the voice of reason that calms Guido down and makes him “pull himself together.”
Nine is loaded with extras. First there’s commentary with director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca. The duo talk about how it took three years to get the film on screen; they also cover the production and the soundstages and actors that made the film come to life.
"The Incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis" is a short featurette that has cast and crew talking about the actor before shifting to the actor himself who weighs in on his acting as well.
"The Women of Nine" focuses on the ladies of the film and covers topics including backstage friendships and screen interaction, and includes some rehearsal footage which is always interesting to view.
"Director Rob Marshall" covers his musical history and has interviews with cast and crew who praise the man.
"Behind the Look of Nine" takes a look at the various technical challenges — lighting, camera, costume, and set design — that brought the production to life.
"The Dancers of Nine" goes behind the scenes to the audition process where hundreds of dancers who hoped to be part of the film.
In "The Choreography of Be Italian" the spotlight is on Fergie who discusses her number in the movie and shows more behind the scenes footage.
"Making of Cinema Italiano" focuses on another number in Nine with its star, Kate Hudson.