The Nines

Director – John August

Writer – John August

Starring – Ryan Reynolds, Hope Lange, Melissa McCarthy, Elle Fanning


So peculiar yet strangely engaging is John August’s directorial debut The Nines that it surely leaves each individual viewer perplexed in their own way but ultimately satisfied that they gave this rarity a chance.

To explain the plot of this film would be an exercise in futility without giving away everything that happens but I will at least try to give some sort of synopsis. The film is split into three parts; one about a troubled actor, one about a television writer/director and one about a videogame designer (all played by Ryan Reynolds) and the film unfolds by the three stories intertwining with each other in mysterious ways.

Cult cinema is a sub-genre (of sorts) I am a huge fan of. Donne Darko is one of my favourite movies of all time and there are countless other films I just love simply for their weirdness. The Nines is not a film I would immediately say I loved but upon further viewings and dissections I could come to that opinion. If you found the aforementioned Donnie Darko to your taste then you will probably find something to enjoy in this film. It is a brain-fizzing triple-whammy journey into the meaning of life, personal identity and the state of the world as we know it today. And although the film may be a bit too ambitious in its ideas and maybe it doesn’t fully convince the audience of what it’s attempting to say but you have to admire it for its attempt at doing so. So many films nowadays are formulaic, boring schlock that have no merit but to shut off your brain for a couple of hours. At least The Nines tries to be something different, tries to accomplish something most wouldn’t and I for one give it credit just for that.

As strange and confusing as the film is I have to admit I was in tune with it. Although, for the most part, I had no idea what the hell was going, within the context of the film and in losing myself within it I was sort on the same wavelength. Now I don’t claim to be someone who can understand what most are left confused by but there was just something about this film that had me firmly in its perplexing grip.

I can’t go too much into depth with what actually happens in the film and my thoughts about specific things as that would enter the uncharted spoiler territory. But what I will say is the way the film works in three different sections I thought at first was a tad pointless but by the end it would make even less sense if it were done in any other way. As we are slowly given clues as to what it’s all about, the film’s structure strangely works in its own peculiar little way. There is no doubt a plethora of things that I have missed upon first viewing that I would more than want to notice on a second.

Ryan Reynolds is an actor I like most of the time. He has made some stupid role choices in the past (ala The Amityville Horror remake) but most of the time he is a solid, quite underrated actor. I was surprised and yet happy to see him take on a role (actually three) like this as it proves he has versatility and a nose for unique projects. I can’t quite say he is fantastic here but he was certainly more than adequate. I think the same goes for the rest of the cast; perhaps not perfect but good enough.

This is writer John August’s (writer of such films as Big Fish and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) debut film as a director and for a first timer this is impressive stuff. It would perhaps be a bit odd for an experienced director to make this film but in a weird way it makes sense for a debut director to do so. And despite August’s brave ambition’s being not entirely convincing I admire them none the less.

But in the end I can’t quite recommend The Nines, at least not to a general audience. Personally I had a fun and thought-provoking time with it but any general movie goer who just happens to stumble upon it will no doubt be left confused and annoyed. Whether you are the former or the latter you will have to find out for yourself.

2 thoughts on “The Nines”

  1. The overlapping storyline of the Nines resolves itself nicely at the end… and although Reynolds is a versatile, it was Melissa McCarthy who did a particularly great job of adding color to the whole thing.

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