A/V Room









9 Songs (18)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

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, can't?"

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 Margo Stilley).

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 throughout.

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 unmoving.

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.


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