2018 Film Challenge: 15. 9 Songs

This is another of Jamie’s reject DVDs, plus one I kinda wish I hadn’t bothered taking! I won’t be keeping it, that’s for sure, plus apologies in advance to whichever charity shop ends up with it. The fact that he never suggested watching it whilst we were together should probably have tipped me off to it not being that great.

It’s just over an hour, so at least it passes relatively quickly, though it still seemed to drag. There’s not much in the way of plot – it’s basically a guy reflecting on a past relationship, though in the most superficial way possible – by focusing on all the sex. Like, seriously, how sexist an opening piece of dialogue is this?:

“When I remember Lisa I don’t think about her clothes, or her work, or where she was from, or even what she said. I think about her smell, her taste, her skin touching mine.”

The film then consists of alternating scenes of live music (with the characters in attendance at the gig) and snippets of their personal life (which, like I said, is mostly the sex). I feel like this could work as a concept, if done well, but in this case it really didn’t. You don’t get any proper insight into the characters, plus what you do see of them makes them seem awful. The small amount of dialogue seems really stilted and unnatural, plus I didn’t even enjoy a lot of the gig footage as it’s filmed in a way that makes you feel quite distant from it. In general it’s got a bit of a home video type feel to it, which works in some ways, as it does give it an intimate, almost voyeuristic quality, but then the awkward dialogue instantly pulls you out of that.

It’s mostly known for its unsimulated sex scenes, which might make you think it’s quite erotic, but I didn’t personally find it to be. Some of the early scenes, particularly, I found really cringey to watch, but wondered if that was intentional. You know that episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel watch their sex tape and it suddenly gets unpleasant to watch? ‘That’s not pretty.’ It felt like that. It had a realism that made it really unerotic. But then the later scenes did seem more deliberately erotic, and a bit less realistic, so I’m not really sure what the intention was. It’s like it fell short of both art and porn. Sad times. Although the most unbelievable part of the film for me was the notion that the male lead was meant to be some kind of scientific researcher! Like, what? In my notes I described him as having a Resting Arrogance Face. Alas, that’s the extent of my notes that you’re going to be treated to, as my phone decided to rebel against the film and instead of saving the note I’d drafted, it pretended I’d never written it. I don’t blame it, like, I kinda wish I could pretend I hadn’t seen it.

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One Response to 2018 Film Challenge: 15. 9 Songs

  1. Crashing Elliptical says:

    I wrote the below before you posted your thoughts, but it appears we are very much on the same page!
    Oh, 9 Songs! I’d never seen this before, but I had heard of it. I basically knew three things about it before watching:

    1. It’s written, produced and directed by Michael Winterbottom
    2. It’s very explicit
    3. It features a bunch of songs from gigs (including a couple by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club)

    So I ponied up my £3.49 to rent this via Amazon Video. As it was a blazing hot day, and I had all the windows open, I decided to watch this wearing headphones – wouldn’t want the neighbours getting the wrong idea!

    You know what the one word I would use to describe this film is? Not sexy, or shocking, or exciting, but boring! I found it really dull. It was basically just: song at a gig, shagging, another song at a gig, more shagging, and rinse, and repeat ad infinitum.

    It’s odd, because Winterbottom’s other stuff (24 Hour Party People, The Trip, A Cock & Bull Story etc) I’ve liked, but this one didn’t land with me at all. The characters were paper thin, and they were both just really unlikable. The plot was non-existent, and what a superficial relationship they had.

    I struggle to work out what this film is actually trying to achieve. It’s spectacularly un-erotic, so it’s not that. It’s definitely not a compelling exploration of the changing nature of a relationship. It’s not even a particularly representative example of the gig going experience. I honestly thought the most interesting part was the stuff about Antarctica!

    I was also mildly intrigued by the inclusion of a Michael Nyman performance, as it seemed so out of place with all the other songs, so I looked it up. Turns out he and Winterbottom are friends and have collaborated together many times over the years – there were a couple of his other works featured during the film too).

    Oh well, at least it was short at just over an hour. A miss from me I’m afraid!

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