It is just by coincidence that this film is released in Montreal right at the same time as the Fantasia Festival is underway. As we know, that is the festival that presents all kinds of mystery, horror, and science-fiction movies. Although “Nine Days,” directed by Edson Oda could well fall into the type of films exhibited at that festival, it is not part of it.
Will (Winston Duke) lives in an isolated area in what seems to be a desert. He spends most of the time watching several TV monitors; he also keeps an archive of videocassettes on which the lives of several people are recorded. There is one that takes most of Will’s attention: the depiction of someone who committed suicide.
The job of this enigmatic man is to interview potential souls who should try –over the period of nine days– to demonstrate that they deserve “to be born”. Will is just an ordinary individual doing what seems to be a routine job. He lives alone and has only one friend, Kyo (Benedict Wong), who visits him and comes to interact with the “candidates” to be born.
Of all the souls looking to be born, one catches Will’s attention: Emma (Zazie Beets), who doesn’t play by the rules. She has a different plan, and her actions often disrupt the well-established routine of the site.
There is an enigmatic search in the film that keeps it going for two hours, although in the end, the spectator would be still puzzled about what the search was about. Is it the perennial question for the meaning of life? Or what makes a life worth living? Is it a serious invitation to a philosophical quest and reflection, or is it just a pretentious attempt at visiting complex existential issues in an intriguing setting? Although I rarely keep undecided on a verdict about a movie, it is the case with “Nine Days.” That heavy, somehow tense setting of the whole story makes it interesting, especially when examining the main character.
On the other hand, there is also that somewhat artificial notion of what the candidates must demonstrate to be born—the parameters seem arbitrary and unclear. Except for the presence of Emma, who would somehow alter those parameters, it is also difficult to think of “Nine Days” as a movie that would lead to long-lasting reflection on any of these issues. Although, at the same time, the film’s ambience is perhaps its most appealing aspect.
Feature image: Will (Winston Duke) has a very strange mission in “Nine Days”
Released at selected theatres. Duration 124 min