Plot: What’s it about?
Samantha (Amanda Seyfried) is trying to hold her parents together, a feat that isn’t a simple one, given the tension between the two. Her father is an invalid and her mother is on the verge of an affair, but Samantha won’t give up on their relationship. Camille (Kathy Bates) has an appointment soon to have her breast cancer operated on, which is a high stress situation. But that doesn’t keep her and her husband from getting into it, even as such an important event looms. While Maggie (Glenn Close) and her daughter Maria (Dakota Fanning) visit a cemetery, the two discuss the finer points of existence. When her ex-husband’s new wife dies, Lorna (Amy Brenneman) considers a reunion, at the funeral, no less. These are just a handful of the stories found within Nine Lives, looks inside some crucial moments in the lives of women.
A trend in recent movies is to use a lot of small stories instead one primary story, which is good for some, bad for others. I can understand the concept, as when done right, the smaller stories combine to tell a larger one, but the concept isn’t always done right. When poorly done, we’re left with a mess of short stories that fail to create any kind of cohesive elements. In the case of Nine Lives however, the concept is nailed and the film is much, much better than I expected. The cast is excellent across the board, so the characters in each story are remarkable, which is crucial here. The emotion runs high throughout the stories, but never feels forced, thanks to great writing and the wonderful performances. To be honest, I didn’t want to sit down with Nine Lives, but I am glad I did and I can give it a high recommendation.
Video: How does it look?
Nine Lives is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The visual scheme here is not slick or high shine, the filmmakers chose a more natural, gritty presence. So this won’t be as glossy as some transfers, but then again, it shouldn’t be. The visual design enforces a kind of documentary feel, which adds to the realism and natural environment. A few minor issues surface at times, but they are indeed minor and on the whole, this transfer gives us little reason to complain.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is a natural, reserved kind of movie, so the emphasis is on dialogue. That means the included Dolby Digital 5.1 option isn’t about power or creative presence, just an adequate presentation. The dialogue is as clean and crisp as we could want, no volume issues in the least. The soundtrack is given a boost by the musical score however, so there is some presence here. Not to the point that it distracts, but just enough to add depth and provide some atmosphere. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You can watch over an hour from a Q&A session, in which director Rodrigo Garcia and several cast members field questions about the production. I wouldn’t call the event insightful, but it has some worthwhile stuff and fans of the film should check it out. A quartet of featurettes can also be found here, but none offer depth and have little information.