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9 Songs (2004)

Cast: Margo Stilley, Kieran O'Brien
Director: Michael Winterbottom
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Studio: Tartan Video
Genre: Foreign, UK, Musicals, Erotica
Running Time: 69 min.
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A relationship between a British scientist and an American student is chronicled through the concerts they saw and the love they made in this highly personal romantic drama from director Michael Winterbottom. Matt (Kieran O'Brien) works with the British Antarctic Survey team, and as he travels to the South Pole and ponders the vast plains of snow and ice, his mind drifts back to his short-lived romance with Lisa (Margo Stilley), a free-spirited girl from the United States. Matt and Lisa met at a rock concert, and afterward the two went back to his flat and made love; as Matt relives their relationship in his mind, their time together is reduced to a few meals, bits of conversation, and nine concerts they attended together, punctuated by their sessions in the bedroom. Described by several critics as the most sexually explicit film produced to date by a noted international director, 9 Songs was a labor of love for Michael Winterbottom. Primarily improvised, self-financed, and shot using digital video equipment with a three-person skeleton crew, 9 Songs includes performances by Primal Scream, the Von Bondies, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Franz Ferdinand, Super Furry Animals, the Dandy Warhols, Elbow, and Michael Nyman. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

What explicit sex? by LHeck March 10, 2008 - 6:40 PM PDT
I saw no explicit sex and I really don't think it would make a difference to me except that if the director shot it and wished it to be seen as part of the film, Greencine should be renting that cut. If they are offering only an edited "softened" cut, please note that.

The only element that is worthwhile in this film is the music.

Disappointing by 4399255 August 4, 2006 - 2:37 PM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
It's not just that the filmmaker stinted on characterization -- he did -- but that he stinted on just about anything that would make us care about these people and their relationship. What was attractive to these people about each other, if in fact they were attracted to each other. It was impossible to tell. The Kieran O'Brien character, in the voice-over, talked about their deep love for each other, but I didn't see it in how they interacted.

I agree that the film proves that explicit sex in a film doesn't have to be pornographic. It also proves that explicit sex in a film doesn't necessarily reveal anything about character or story.

The bands were good. I wish the film had been more engaging emotionally.

Sex, Drugs, and Michael Nyman by talltale December 7, 2005 - 6:27 AM PST
10 out of 10 members found this review helpful
NINE SONGS is an eye-opener, all right. Anything hard-core that receives a legit theatrical release usually is. And while I am a big Michael Winterbottom fan, I think he miscalculated here by stinting on the story and characterization and going heavier on the sex scenes. Unless he is telling us that sex (and drugs and music) is all this couple really had or perhaps that sex is what so many (too many?) young couples care most about, why can't we know more about these two? What would we (or the movie) lose? The film lasts only 71 minutes, so a longer running time and more characterization could easily have been included, unless Winterbottom was in too big a rush (and the fellow does manage to direct his films rather speedily).

That said, the two actors do a fine job of fucking (and just about everything else in the sexual book). Kieran O'Brien is most impressive, acting-wise and in his physical endowment (I just learned, via the imdb, that he was the little boy in 1987's wonderful "Bellman and True"!). Margo Stilley, boyish as she may be, is both hot and cool--a winning combination. I hope we will see these two again, under any circumstances. While this is a very sensual movie, and it does prove that full-out, on-screen sex acts need not be pornographic, I suspect it could have offered quite a bit more. Michael Nyman's musical score (and solo bit at the piano) is simply gorgeous. Is there any film composer alive whose work (see Winterbottom's "Wonderland" for further corroboration) sounds more beautiful or sad?

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.48)
96 Votes
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Tartan Video has been releasing the very best of cinema from all over the world on DVD and Video. Films that entertain, amaze, shock, excite and continually challenge our perceptions of cinema and the world around us.

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