“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.” – Anais Nin
I’m not exactly what you might call a believer. What happens when life ends? Probably nothing. But maybe, just maybe there’s something more. Does that mean there was nothing before it started as well? These are the questions that make up the theory of what encompasses a film like Nine Days. Like going in for an incredibly long job interview, Nine Days is a process of elimination to find the single worthy entity capable of navigating what we call life. Should they be chosen, they are presented with the opportunity to begin an existence as a human being, imperfections and all.
But like an interview, someone must be there to do the actual interviewing. Enter Will. He is a jaded soul, back from a life unfulfilled. How his time on Earth ended is something Will holds close to his chest and is a major factor in how he carries out his interviews with potential souls. He believes he was weak in his life and is determined to make his choice based on someone he believes will side step such mistakes. This is why it is so devastating for Will when he witnesses one of his previously selected souls commit the same act that ended his own life. For the remainder of his interview process he is tortured by the questions of why they did it and the agony of never getting an answer. He will forever wonder why and how he could have missed the signs.
Will has been molded by his mistakes on Earth to become the hardened shell that sits across from prospective hires. He sees life as something to be survived rather than experienced. It is something not to be taken lightly and he will make his choices accordingly. As someone so straight lined, so matter of fact, it’s a fascinating clash of personalities when he meets the final prospect, Emma. She is, what one might call, buoyant or overly optimistic. She is almost immediately an unlikely choice for Will. He sees weakness in her while his friend Kyo, a fellow employee of sorts, sees a unique soul, a soul worthy of life. Will isn’t convinced. Still, despite her tendency to stand out, there are other applicants to consider.
Will, played by Winston Duke, is such a flawed man. He is broken and Duke’s performance is heartbreaking. You can feel the pain behind his eyes as he views his applicants’ naivety as nothing more than a debility. The tragedy for them is his biasness is nothing they can anticipate or avoid. It’s as if he’s already decided what he thinks of them simply from their presence in his home. Duke protrudes anger and conceals pain at the same moment. He is unquestionably the heart and soul of this take on life, both before and after. His confrontational relationship with Emma is a kind of mirror reflecting Will, all of his biases and mistakes in full view of this unlived soul. Emma, played by Zazie Beetz, is energetic. She is a curious toddler in the body of a grown woman. She portrays inquisitiveness about everything she sees. She is the best choice clearly but the most unlikely if Will has any say in it. Unfortunately for Emma, he does.
Nine Days is a showcase of the awfulness of life and the ceaseless beauty of it. It is a question of optimism versus pessimism. Someone fresh to the world would likely enter it with an open mind opposed to someone like Will, hardened by a life already lived and by his measure, a life utterly failed. When one of his most beloved pupils succumbs to the pressures of life like he did, he wonders about the point of existence. If this is how it ends, why try? Emma just may be the soul to bring him that ever elusive answer he so desperately seeks.
A drama for sure, Nine Days is also a chance of reflection. If you accept the premise you can allow it to pose these questions about existence not just to the characters but to you as well. I think maybe we can all lose sight of the little things, the moments lost in time but ultimately make up the best parts of life. For all his flaws, Will can still appreciate the need for those small moments and knows a life without them isn’t worth much. This is why his attempts at recreating those moments for the unlived souls is so powerful and tragic. For a brief slice of time, they experience the best of what life can offer only to never understand the beauty of its simultaneous complexity and simplicity. An understanding that can only be attained by living. Nine Days is a unique perspective for sure but it’s all the more beautiful because of it. I don’t know that it’s the kind of film to be watched numerous times but I’m grateful I finally had the opportunity to see it. I would love to have it a part of my collection if only to know I have it should I ever feel introspective or romantic about life. Nine Days is a great option to choose from.
Rated R For: language
Runtime: 124 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Starring: Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Benedict Wong, Bill Skarsgård
Directed By: Edson Oda
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 9/ Acting: 10/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 8
OVERALL: 9 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes.
Check out the trailer below:
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