Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Introduction by Tom Dewe Matthews, author
of 'Censored: What They Didn't Allow You To See And Why - The
Story Of Film Censorship In Britain', Interviews with director
Michael Winterbottom and actors Kieran O'Brien & Margo Stilley,
'Just The Songs': the option to watch the concert footage separately
FROM the moment it screened at Cannes last year, Michael Winterbottom's
sexually explicit Nine Songs has been growing in notoriety, rather
like some sort of smutty, prolonged foreplay.
Now that it has been fully exposed to UK audiences, it turns
out to be something of a disappointment - a storm without a D-Cup
that fails in pretty much every objective.
Winterbottom claims to have been inspired by Michael Houellebecq's
sexually explicit novel, Platform, which prompted the
director to think: "It's full of explicit sex, so how come
books can do this but film, which is far greater disposed to it,
He also insisted that the film represents a reaction to the ‘prudish’
films being made at the moment.
But far from stimulating any organs, or lively debate, Nine Songs
prompts the question, why bother in the first place?
The plot revolves around a young couple in London, Matt and his
American girlfriend, Lisa (played by Kieran O’Brien and
Sex is what brings them together
and what they spend most of their time doing - only really getting
dressed to pop to the odd concert, footage of which is included
The story is framed by shots of Matt flying over the plains of
Antarctica, recalling the relationship he had from afar.
What results is a series of increasingly graphic sex scenes (performed
for real by the actors) interspersed with concert footage from
the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Primal Scream, The Dandy Warhols
and Michael Nyman, as well as the odd pause for conversation.
But what passes for characterisation, isn't worth knowing, given
that neither actor makes any sort of impression other than to
appear self-centred and annoying - Stilley, especially, is deeply
What's more, there's no sense of chemistry between them and nothing
to titilate the audience - Stilley, again, appears stark naked
from the outset and offers very little in the way of seduction.
The result is nothing more than a porn movie masquerading as
art which probably wouldn't have secured a UK cinema release were
it not for Winterbottom's involvement (he has previously directed
24 Hour Party People and Jude).
At 69 minutes, it's also overlong, reducing viewers to virtual
voyeurs while attemping to get them off with scenes of bondage,
penetration, ejaculation and self-gratification.
The prudish are certain to be up in arms, while even those with
open minds will have difficulty understanding Winterbottom's motivation,
given the lack of anything meaningful throughout.
As an exploration of sex, it's a curiously impenetrable affair
that doesn't even have the ability to bore its viewers stiff.