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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Nine Lives (2005)



Reviews and Comments

Nine Lives tells nine stories about nine women. Each story is told in a single unbroken steadicam shot, lasting about ten minutes. Some of the stories intersect with each other, making it almost a hyperlink film, while others stand alone. Collectively, they paint a remarkably comprehensive picture of life.

The film's conviction is perhaps what makes it so powerful. Most movies feel contrived on some level: arranged and packaged to reward us with complete understanding and closure about the stories they tell. But these stories truly feel like ten minutes out of real people's lives. Important ten minute spans, yes. None of these stories feature ten minutes out of anybody's commute to work. But it's clear that these characters had lives before we started watching them, and they continue on after we've stopped. We do get complete stories, but only as complete as life allows. In real life stories, something always leads up to them, and something always results as a consequence. We don't really get all that from the stories Nine Lives tells, but we get enough to know these characters, and love them, and care deeply about them.

As with any anthology, some of the stories are stronger than others. Here, the weakest still work, and the strongest are unforgettable. The final story ends with a 360 degree pan, but it's not just a fancy camera move: it's a powerful revelation that had me choking back tears. What kind of tears, you might ask? Happy or sad? But it's not so simple.