#REVIEW: “NINE DAYS”
Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
This exceptional Film from first-time Feature Writer-Director Edson Oda reminds us what makes life worth living.
Will (Winston Duke) lives out his past-life as an interviewee in the before-world. It’s his job to interview candidates, who are personifications of human souls, for the ultimate job of getting the chance to live. However, when one of his prior souls, Amanda, commits suicide he searches for reasons and signs he might have missed. This leads him to be more thorough in his newest batch of candidates over the next nine days.
Nine Days is one of the most moving films to come along in years. Oda’s excellent Script is filled with lessons and reminders about how beautiful and painful life is. As Will watches his living souls on TV sets, we see the love and hate in the world. These videos are shot in POV, causing us to experience these life moments in all their happiness and pain. Additionally, we get a deeper glimpse into these POV moments when the newest candidates arrive. Will tasks the candidates with taking notes on the living and questions their thoughts, feelings and what they would do in a similar situation.
Will once lived and he’s described by his before-life friend, Kyo (an outstanding Benedict Wong), that he was too talented, kind and sensitive. Kyo describes Will’s often bitterness for life as a result of Will living in a world that wasn’t made for him. Duke is a showstopper and a commanding force in this role. He uses an external calm demeanour while also exposing the chaos that is simmering just beneath Will’s surface. He gives a beautifully subtle performance that allows for some expressive moments. One particular expressive moment comes at the end when Will acts out his best human memory. It’s one of the finest performances of the year.
There are a lot of candidates who arrive at Will’s home. Oda’s impeccable script has found a way to introduce and give enough time to make us care for them. He does this by chopping up multiple scenes into what feels like one. We’ll enter a room with one candidate and Will and through edits, the candidate will change but the scenario stays the same. Additionally, these edits help move the story along, aid in exposition and expose each of Oda’s distinct characters.
The candidates are cast perfectly to enhance these pronounced personalities. The standout is Zazie Beetz who plays the inquisitive, sensitive and intelligent Emma. Beetz is phenomenal giving Emma a quiet strength that is rooted in curiosity for the world. She’s the one that often goes against Will’s gloomier views of life, the lighting is often used to highlight this. Beetz will be under a brighter light while Duke will be shadowed or under the blue light of night.
Bill Skarsgård plays Kane who’s clearly the toughest soul vying for the position. He delivers a gripping monologue about the darkness in the world and how often it happens. It’s in this scene that he shows passion and vulnerability that allows us to relate to Kane. Tony Hale plays Alex a soul who uses humour as a defence mechanism. Typically, Hale plays the oddball comedic character but here he delivers a different comedy. When Alex realizes he didn’t get the job Hale gets to show a range of emotions that leave us heartbroken.
It’s through these candidates, and Kyo, that Oda’s existential message becomes apparent. When Will tell’s them they didn’t get the job — eliminating them — he asks them to write down one thing from the TV they would want to experience. You’d think they would pick big life moments, but they don’t. One wants to experience a day at the beach, another to ride a bike down a city street. Will recreates these moments for them as Oda does for us: with beauty. It’s clear through all of this that it’s the little things in life that make it worth living.
Mongrel Media release NINE DAYS Friday, August 13, 2021.
*Please ensure you exercise caution in observing COVID-19 protocols if seeing this in-theatre.*