Review: Nine Days (Sundance 2020)

Title: Nine Days
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Edson Oda
Starring: Winston Duke, Bill Skarsgard, Zazie Beetz
Runtime: 2 hr 4 mins

What It Is: Will lives in a house in the middle of the desert. His job is to watch over a variety of different souls and choose which one out of them is most equipped to live in the real world. When a series of events and his encounters with one of the more spirited and wiser souls challenge his outlook on life itself, he must decide whether or not he will face the life he had lived previously.

What We Think: It’s an interesting concept, though not necessarily as philosophical as I would think. I believe it definitely focuses more on the existentialism rather than a sort of defense for how people come into being. Why I say this is because parts of this film’s rules are that people apparently come out of nowhere. I know it’s just me but honestly, I was a tad distracted on how any of it made sense when respects were paid to one soul after another that lost out on the chance of living and would just disappear, which brings up some questions. Namely the question of why does Benedict Wong (who was the most delightful and heartfelt performance in this film) gets to “exist” even though he’s never lived, when the other souls just “die” and disappear? Maybe I missed something… nonetheless the whole thing is meant to simply represent different people that will come to be and all the different heavy ways we have to survive life by. “What makes life worth living?”, that sort of ordeal. And it was delivered appropriately; while I didn’t really fall in line with any of the characters the overall themes caught on. The ability to watch the lives of people Will’s passed on into life through televisions and videotapes was a cool touch. At the same time, I kept trying to make sense of everything in my head as it all still felt very familiar…

This is between you and me, film snobs, but I’m pretty sure this whole theoretical, fantastical situation about those who will come to be and others who won’t actually takes place in a vagina. I am not kidding. Nor am I against it. I wish perhaps maybe things were a bit more clear on that end, I guess…? Then again it doesn’t really matter, but why “nine days?” Well, here’s a fun fact for those of you who don’t know because I didn’t until I took a course in sexuality, but semen can live in the vagina for up to around a week. I’m pretty sure the house and the setting of Utah is the vagina, Will is some sort of conscience having to do with the “host” or some sort of part of the female reproductive system, and all the qualifying souls, most of which inevitably die off within this time, are semen. Yes, I think the whole “nine days” thing is a metaphor for the struggle of semen to reach the egg and come to life. Of course, this isn’t the strict nature of the film, but the similarities are damning. As I mentioned before, the characters and the writing didn’t really blow me away, so I got distracted and carried away thinking about the metaphor for the rest of the film and kept giggling to myself because I’m an immature being.

Our Grade: D+, I have nothing against this film. The performances are fine, the writing a bit lackluster, the setup fine. I suppose it just relied a little too much on trying to hit one emotionally, and that was what it went with. It wasn’t entirely memorable or at all effecting, not to say it has worth in a watch. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you’ll enjoy taking part in the strange yet simple world that is Nine Days, or as I have mentally titled it, Semen Royale. All jokes aside, it took itself a tad too seriously and importantly and revealed a certain goofiness (the ending falling flat, especially), but has sweet intentions. Considering this is the director’s debut, I would be willing to still give his next release a watch.

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Chai Simone Written by: