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Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look: 3.7%
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3 reviews, 9 user ratings

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9 Songs
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by Robert Flaxman

"And the final score: Songs 9, Plot 0."
1 stars

Theoretically, there are a number of films that could have grown out of the three major aspects of Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs. The concert footage could have spawned a concert film, the relationship footage could have been turned into a low-key drama, and the explicit sexual footage could simply have been released as pornography. It’s highly doubtful that any of these films would have been very good, however. While it’s never clear what exactly Winterbottom is hoping to accomplish with 9 Songs, it’s all too apparent that what he has brought to the screen is nothing of any value.

Think of a couple you know. Now, imagine that you are tasked to follow them around with a video camera for a few months. This already sounds like it might not be that fun, right? Now strip away anything in the personality of this couple that makes them likable or interesting as people. If you can picture that, you’ll have some sense of what it’s like to sit through 9 Songs.

At 70 minutes, the film is barely feature length, yet it still passes at an agonizingly slow pace. Perhaps this is because Winterbottom manages to make each of the three parts of the film about as tough to watch as possible. The relationship footage is painfully bad; apart from the clumsy narration by main character Matt (Kieran O’Brien), it seems like just about every bit of dialogue in the film was improvised – and frankly, I’d be more concerned if it wasn’t. The sex footage, however explicit, is neither stimulating nor even interesting. And, most problematically for a film entitled 9 Songs, the concert footage is mediocre, shot largely from well off into the audience and frequently focusing on our bland lead couple.

This last concern was probably intentional – presumably Winterbottom intended to tie the experience of concert-going to the track of the relationship – but that doesn’t make it any better, especially when the concept to which it is linked simply doesn’t work. Winterbottom never makes any real suggestion that one resembles the other, with the possible exception of obvious and facile lyrical comparisons. (At the film’s close, as his girlfriend Lisa has departed for America, Matt attends a concert where Black Rebel Motorcycle Club sings a tune with the line “Now she’s gone and love burns inside me.” That sound you hear is my eyes rolling into the back of my head.)

Indeed, the film’s sense of what constitutes “depth” appears to have been concocted by a high school sophomore. When Lisa decides to stay in and Matt attends a concert by himself, he notes self-pityingly in a voiceover how he feels alone despite being in a room with 500 people. Even if this weren’t a concept we’d seen a hundred times before, it’s not particularly clever or meaningful.

9 Songs is told as a series of flashbacks, and opens with Matt relating how when he thinks of Lisa, what he thinks of is how her skin felt against his. This explains why the film is saturated with the couple’s sex life, but what it doesn’t explain is why we should care. Winterbottom seems to go out of his way in that opening to excuse the fact that the film makes no attempt at seriously exploring the relationship between the characters, as though that would make his B-grade pornography acceptable. Just because you admit you’ve got nothing to say doesn’t make it all right, though. Maybe the only real point behind the film was to see if something that is basically pornography could get a normal release if it added just enough “plot” to make it seem like the film was about something other than its sexual content. It worked – the film received actual ratings in most countries (though it was unrated in the US) and was released into real theaters, though certainly not many – but it’s hard to argue that a film with this kind of content (including a couple things I’d never seen in a mainstream release before) wasn’t created largely to shock. Even in its most graphic moments, though, 9 Songs is far more boring than it is shocking. Unappealing leads and no worthwhile context do not make for a sexually-charged film experience.

Cripplingly dull from start to finish, 9 Songs is all the more depressing because it’s obvious how hard Winterbottom was trying to do something edgy, or at least different. Instead, it’s plodding, soporific, and obnoxious. There’s nothing to like here – even fans of the music will likely feel shortchanged. Besides, you can listen to a mix tape while doing other things – you’re not stuck watching a terrible movie at the same time.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11285&reviewer=385
originally posted: 12/24/05 20:42:26
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Atlanta Film Festival For more in the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/25/18 Amy Siegel Margo Stilley's scenes of fellatio, handjob ejaculation, and vaginal penetration were sexy! 5 stars
3/01/10 JL Sensationalist crap 1 stars
9/14/08 Arcane The chick was hot...and the sex was ok. Period. 1 stars
6/02/07 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Cool, a mainstream porn flick. Liked it for the sex, not the artsy fake mumbo-jumbo hype!! 4 stars
5/27/07 Pascal specially the songs are amazingly awesome! 5 stars
2/28/07 Edwin Menguin What a load of shite 1 stars
12/29/05 tatum ...or you could just rent porn; really boring 1 stars
10/25/05 chris fox (the god) great sex scenes 5 stars
1/23/05 Polak Terrible stuff. Walked out with half an hour left. 1 stars
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  22-Jul-2005 (NR)
  DVD: 22-Nov-2005



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