Matt (Kieran O'Brien) meets tourist Lisa (Margo Stilley) at a rock concert at London's Brixton Academy and they have a short, sexually charged affair, making love in a variety of ways and going to lots of rock concerts before Lisa heads back home.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Michael Winterbottom's rock-a-shagathon movie defies easy analysis, which doesn't matter because why should we be able to instantly analyse movies. The fact that it refuses to concede to narrative needs is another matter, though, a fatal flaw. Whatever a film made up of a young couple shagging each other's brains out, alternating with a variety of rock bands in concert mode can't afford to be is boring. Or clicheed: when Lisa decides not to attend one of the concerts, Matt remarks, "Five thousand people in a room and you can still feel alone..."
I admire Winterbottom's work with a couple of exceptions, and this is one of them. The sexual activity, all as graphically shot as any porn movie, is performed in such a slight structural context as to be almost meaningless. Ditto the concert footage that acts like so much interstitial material - or is it the other way round.
The concert footage, though, is shot with none of the advantages of controlled lighting and sound, making it look and sound like amateur video. The 9 songs of the title are complemented by (I think) 9 sexual engagements. Some of these involve playful bondage, some fallacio and cunnilingus, and a few other practices. On the whole, we are treated as voyeurs, though, the nature of this relationship left deliberately transient and vague - but not ethereally so. As for the excursions into the Antarctic with Matt and his narration about the thickness of the ice, it seems more like obfuscation than symbolism or insight.
In one rare, short, dialogue scene, Matt is sitting by his computer and Lisa opposite. She tells him that "sometimes when you kiss me I just want to bite you...not in a nice way...I want to hurt you...I want to bite your lip really hard... f***ing hard and make you bleed. [pause] I'm just going to go lie down..." Matt mumbles, "OK, be in in a bit..." But next scene they're at the Venus sex club, with a naked girl performing for Lisa, and Matt soon leaves. In all, there's probably more groaning and sighing than talking or singing, but disconcertingly, Lisa seems to get as much pleasure from her vibrator as from Matt, who watches despondently. As do we.
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9 SONGS (R)
CAST: Kieran O'Brien, Margot Stilley, Huw Bunford, Cian Ciaran, The Dandy Warhols, Elbow, Franz Ferdinand, Michael Nyman, Courtney Taylor-Taylor
PRODUCER: Michael Winterbottom, Andrew Eaton
DIRECTOR: Michael Winterbottom
SCRIPT: Michael Winterbottom
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Marcel Zyskind
EDITOR: Mat Whitecross, Michael Winterbottom
MUSIC: Bob Hardy, Alex Kapranos, Nick McCarthy
RUNNING TIME: 69 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Imagine
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: NSW, VIC, SA: May 12, 2005 (Other states to follow)