Palace Nova Cinemas from July 15 2021
Review by Geoff Jenke
Will (Winston Duke) spends his days in a remote outpost watching the live Point of View (POV) on TVs of people going about their lives on earth, until one subject perishes, leaving a vacancy for a new life on earth.
Soon, several candidates (unborn souls) arrive at Will’s to undergo tests determining their fitness to be born on earth. They have nine days to prove their worth. Failure means facing oblivion. However, Will soon faces his own existential challenge in the form of free-spirited Emma (Zazie Beetz), a candidate who is not like the others, forcing him to turn within and reckon his own tumultuous past.
This is Japanese/Brazilian director Edson Oda’s debut feature film and Edson delivers a heartfelt and meditative vision of human souls in limbo, aching to be born against unimaginable odds, yet hindered by forces beyond their will.
The film may sound a bit strange, and at first it is but this is a wonderful story. The thing that strikes the viewer is the originality of the movie. I doubt you have ever seen a movie with a story line like this one. It is almost like Big Brother, but only the last person standing gets to live. But no, this is not a horror film.
The setting is nowhere. The time on the clock stands still, although there is day and night. There are no stars in the sky at night. TVs are old analogue and Will uses VCR recorders, pencil and paper. The unborn souls can eat and drink but do not need to do so. Is this heaven? It is obviously not but a place where there is selection, as to who gets born and who stays non-existent.
The film is beautifully striking and production impressive. It’s not about those who die on earth but about ones fighting to be born. Winston Duke and his assistant in the movie, Benedict Wong (playing Kyo) hold the film together magnificently and never let it become self-indulgent.
Nine Days will hold your interest for the full 2 hours and then still hold it for days to come.
A special movie and one you should see this year.