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The Nines

March 31, 2011

I have no idea how I stumbled on this movie on NetFlix. It was probably through the tags ‘mind-binding’ or ‘psychological thriller,’ which tend to be my bread and butter. However when I found it I obviously decided that it was a movie I might want to watch… somewhere down the road. So I saved it in my queue and went on to look for some other 90’s action movie, which are in abundance on NetFlix. But late last night my girlfriend and I couldn’t go to sleep and I told her to pick a random movie from my queue to watch. After watching the trailer she got really excited to watch The Nines, so I said “what the hell,” and I threw it on thinking that I would probably be asleep by the time Ryan Reynolds got his shirt off.

But as the movie progressed I became more and more interested in what was actually going on. Plus his shirt was already off way too early in the movie to go to sleep which is actually crazy. As a precursor to this review/breakdown I have to tell you that there are going to be a lot of spoilers. Like the entire movie. So if you really want to know nothing about this film before diving in I would stop reading now. The truth is I am not actually sure what went down in this film, so this is going to act less as a review and more as a method to work out the complexities of The Nines. Sorry, but this has to be done, because it is pretty rare when I don’t catch a film’s central plot or theme (Donnie Darko and any David Lynch movie do fall into that ‘need-to-watch-it-again’ category. And again and again and again). Now try and stay with me, because this is going to get insane, confusing, unbelievable, and extremely complex. First I’m just going to try to describe and break down the movie, and then I will critique it. Let’s see if I am up to the challenge…

There are three main actors within this film. The film itself is broken down into three separate parts or stories, in which the same three actors appear, but as different characters in each. By the way, three characters x three plot lines = 9. Thats just the beginning of the mind-blowing. Ryan Reynolds stars as Gary/Gavin/Gabriel. We are introduced to Gary, a famous hollywood actor, as he goes on a pretty intense bender (including drinking, driving, hiring a hooker, smoking crack, and getting arrested). Once he is taken home, he is put on house arrest. Enter Melissa McCarthy who plays Margaret/Melissa/Mary. In the first sequence she is Margaret, a PR handler who will be living with Gary for his internment. She is caring, but almost also over-involved. Gary is bored, and therefore begins to get obsessed with the number nine. He even finds a note on an orange sticky that says, “Look for the nines.” Gary also starts seeing himself all over his house, which really freaks him out. During his house arrest time he meets his neighbor Sarah. Hope Davis is the third character, and plays Sarah/Susan/Sierra. Sarah continues to try to get Gary out of his ‘prison’ of sorts. But Margaret confronts her, telling her that she knows that she is “one of the nines.” Eventually Gary gets fed up with home arrest, the nines popping up all over the place, his overweight roommate and watching another version of himself eat a sandwich. So he steps over the alarm boundary, a white light appears and boom! New reality…

Even Stevens gets house arrest and gets with this hot chick while Ryan Reynolds get's stuck with Melissa McCarthy and Hope Davis? Times have changed...

Back to reality, op, there goes gravity, op, there’s B.Rabbit… Wait, sorry thats 8 Mile, not The Nines (you see what I did there? 8,9? Clever right?) But really, flash of light, and there is Ryan Reynolds again. Except he’s not Gary any longer. He is now Gavin, a television writer on the brink of a deal to sign a knew TV show called ‘Knowing,’ in which a mother and child are lost. He is also being filmed by a reality TV crew. The mother in the show is supposed to be played by his best friend Melissa (played by Melissa McCarthy, I know, it’s confusing). In a conversation with Melissa, Gavin expresses his sentiments that he feels like he’s “haunting himself;” Melissa tells him to not sweat the small stuff and to only focus on the nines in life. Gavin then writes down “Look for the nines” on the same orange sticky he found in the first part. However, Gavin is present with a problem when TV Executive Susan (Hope Davis) pushes for Gavin to ditch his friend Melissa in favor of a more attractive, well-known actress. Melissa and Gavin end up in a fight and after walking on the street, Gavin yells at the camera crew to get lost. Someone walking by asks Gavin who he is talking to and it is revealed there is no camera crew at all. As Gavin begins to look around he sees floating sevens over everyones heads. Of course there is a nine floating over his own head.


It's all a video game... Just kidding... or am I?

Ok, so at this point I am confused, and a little annoyed that I have no idea what is going on, which makes me want to find out even more. Perfect timing. The narrative flashes back to a the first part. Gary is sitting and listening to Margaret explain who he really is. She tells him that he is “a multidimensional being of vast, almost infinite power” that has been creating, decreating and recreating the world, casting himself as a character in his own story. Let that sink in for a second. She also reveals that he has become trapped in his own realities and has forgotten who he actually is. He can destroy the world with a single thought, and he exists in many different forms but none of those forms are real. The numbers refer to the scale in which entities can create or destroy. God is 10, humans are 7, G (short for Ryan Reynolds character(all of his names start with a G)) is, you guessed it, a 9. She also tells him that koalas are 8’s and are weather controlling telepaths, which would be so cool if it were true. G obviously freaks, which is what initially sent him over the edge and made him step over the alarm boundary.


God wishes he looked like Ryan Reynolds. Actually I'm sure he could if he wanted to. Sorry for calling the wrinkles out God...

So is everyone with me? I’m expecting that’s a ‘no’ because I’m not even sure I’m still with me. But lets finish this up. Here comes reality number three. Gabriel (Reynolds) is an acclaimed video game creator on a road trip with his daughter Noelle (Biblical reference?) and wife Mary (McCarthy) when their car breaks down. He leaves them to try to get reception and on his walk he runs into another hiker, Sierra (Davis), who leads him off into the woods to her car, so she can give him a lift to the gas station. She gives him water, but soon after drinking it he feels drowsy and she admits to have poisoned him. Sierra then tells Gabriel about the three parallel universes he has created, and has been living in, and that he forgot who he was, and that he forgot it wasn’t real.

Back at the car Noelle has gone missing after seeing a video on their camcorder of her dad being his other realities Gary and Gavin. But Gabriel appears out of no where with her in his arms. Mary, quickly realizes that he is not who he seems and he knows who he is. She tells Gabriel he needs to go and that the world is not real. Gabriel tells her that there were 90 different variations of the universe and this is the last one. Gabriel then realises he must go and removes the green lace (that I didn’t notice the entire movie) from his wrist, at which point the universe peels away into nothing.


I love that this is one of the first images that comes up on Google when I typed in 'Confused'

Ok, so since the plot line is so confusing, I think it is easier to think of the movie based on the characters. G (Reynolds) is actually a demi-god of sorts who continues to create realities and put himself in them. But after creating 90 different realities, G got lost inside of them. M (McCarthy) is a creation of G’s who is in his realities to help him. M could refer to either Mother or biblically it could be Mary. She could also be a human woman that G becomes extremely attached to and continues to recreate every time his reality ‘reboots.’ S (Davis) is another 9, a demi-god. I’m not sure whether S stand for Savior or Satan, but either way she is trying to pull G out of this self-constructed prison of multiple realities. Each character in every plot line reflects these actions. G is the creator and is taking part in a constructed world around him. Therefore he is an actor, a writer, and a video game creator, all creative professions. M is nurturing and honest, which is  reflected in her roles as a roommate, a best friend, and a wife. S is always stable and trying to pull G away from these realities. She is represented as a seductive neighbor, an overbearing, instructing boss, and a devious stranger.

John August, the writer and director of The Nines, also wrote the movie Go!, which happens to be one of my favorite movies ever and a movie that everyone should go find right now. Like Go!, The Nines has a distinct voice and is an extremely interesting concept. I love the idea that a creator can get lost in his own project, much like any artist, actor, musician can loose themselves to their work. Some ideas remind me of The Matrix. But I don’t feel like the twist, the OMG moment, really sunk in or was that understandable. The movie is still extremely vague and leaves so many questions unanswered. But maybe that makes it better, because everyone can interpret it in their own way, much like Inception left the ending open to interpretation. It you want to get your mind twisted, definitely check it out.

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