Georgian Audio-DVD Digital Online Catalog

Add to Cart
Write Review

9 songs

Sale: $3.00
Save: 50% off

The notion that our sexual behavior is the purest expression of our deepest selves is delicately explored in "9 Songs," Michael Winterbottom's lyrical, graphically explicit chronicle of an ordinary love affair between two attractive people. The movie isn't the first art film to show real as opposed to simulated sex, but it's the first to scrutinize at length one couple's bedroom etiquette in a search for their identities. If anything, "9 Songs," conceived and directed by Mr. Winterbottom, the British filmmaker responsible for movies like "In This World" and "Welcome to Sarajevo," that boldly enter the topical fray, proves that showing what people do in bed may not reveal all that much. The truth lies hidden in their minds.

Matt (Kieran O'Brien), the narrator, is a British glaciologist remembering the recent past during an expedition to Antarctica. Lisa (Margo Stilley), the frisky, gamine lover he recalls with a mixture of fondness, exasperation and desire, is a headstrong 21-year-old American he meets at a rock concert in London.

With sexually explicit love scenes that depict the arc of their relationship in encounters that grow increasingly complicated and emotionally tricky, this brave, melancholy, unabashedly romantic movie would like to be the film many had hoped to see in the post-"Deep Throat" era. Three decades ago, when pornographic movie houses proliferated, and a love scene between Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in Nicolas Roeg's "Don't Look Now" strongly suggested that actual sex was being filmed, the prospect of the final barrier's being breached seemed imminent. But somehow it never happened. And then came the AIDS epidemic.

Mr. Winterbottom's film unfolds as the cinematic equivalent of a sustained rock ballad in which live performances attended by the couple in concert halls around London are interwoven with scenes of intimacy that might be compared to electric guitar riffs. The mostly melodic songs, by groups like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Dandy Warhols and Primal Scream, are intended to comment on the relationship. But the songs are too obscure and their lyrics too unintelligible for a coherent dialogue between the concert hall and the bedroom.

As you watch Matt and Lisa make love (with condoms during intercourse), nagging questions hover. Who are they? Are they characters in a predetermined scenario that takes them into mild kinkiness (playful bondage, a visit to a table-dancing club, where a naked dancer tempts them)? Or are we watching actors improvise a screen relationship that may or may not be taking place offscreen? We never know. And without the anchor of a developed screenplay, they remain frustratingly elusive.

During the sex scenes, handsomely photographed in natural light, you never sense genuine abandonment. While not overtly self-conscious in front of the camera, both actors (but especially Mr. O'Brien) play it emotionally safe.

Scattered clues suggest who these people might be. In a voice-over, Matt describes Lisa as "egotistical, careless and crazy." And as the affair progresses, there are signs that the last of these adjectives may be accurate. Matt and Lisa sniff cocaine, but Lisa also takes unidentified pills of which Matt disapproves when they leave her groggy and irritable.

Lisa has a streak of emotional and physical violence. She boasts of her sexual encounters with men of different nationalities. In one love scene she declares that she wants to bite Matt's lip until it bleeds and causes him physical pain. In another she slaps him lightly across the face. Early in the movie Matt says he loves her and jumps into the icy sea to prove it, and she shouts back that she loves him too. But from that point on, the word love is never mentioned.

Matt's impressions of Antarctica strain for metaphoric weight. Close to the South Pole, he observes, "claustrophobia and agoraphobia are in the same place, like two people in a bed." The fact that Lisa doesn't get her own commentary gives Matt the advantage and lends the movie the slight flavor of a locker-room tale told at a woman's expense.

But "9 Songs," for all its failed ambitions and its tinge of sexism, is lovely to watch. Especially when it forsakes the concert hall and visits the English seaside, the film acquires the high romantic gloss of "A Man and a Woman." At such moments, Matt and Lisa begin to suggest prototypical, somewhat idealized modern lovers, two pretty people inviting a soft-core fantasy of romance at twilight.
Date Added: 11/09/2012 by Jackie C
Your IP Address is:
Copyright © 2022 Georgian Audio DVD Online Catalog. Powered by Ramaz Geguchadze