9 Songs

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"2 lovers, one summer, and the 9 songs that defined them."
  • NR
  • 2004
  • 1 hr 9 min
  • 4.7  (23,841)
  • 43

'9 Songs' is an experimental British film from 2004 that has been controversial since its release. Directed by Michael Winterbottom, the movie features only two actors, Kieran O'Brien and Margo Stilley, and a soundtrack with nine live performances from various indie rock bands. The film's straightforward storyline follows the passionate but tumultuous relationship between an American exchange student named Lisa (Stilley) and a British glaciologist named Matt (O'Brien) as they explore their sexual desires and attend concerts together in London.

At first glance, '9 Songs' may come across as little more than sexually explicit and gratuitous, with much of the film's runtime devoted to graphic sex scenes between the two characters. However, the film aims to be more than just titillating; it's a love story in which the physical relationship between the leads is presented as the very foundation of their emotional bond. The sex scenes are presented unflinchingly, with no camera trickery or visual euphemisms employed, giving the audience a raw portrayal of sex between two consenting adults between their twenties.

The movie is also innovative in its use of music. The film boasts live performances from several indie bands, including Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Von Bondies, and Primal Scream, playing their songs as the story progresses. The concerts serve as a visual narrative device, underscoring the intense emotions that Matt and Lisa experience throughout their turbulent relationship. Music becomes the center point of the movie, providing a euphoric soundtrack against a backdrop of sex and love.

As a character study, '9 Songs' is an intriguing piece of cinema. Throughout the film, we see Matt progressing from a lonely scientist who spends his days drilling ice cores in Antarctica to a man who is captivated and then consumed by Lisa. Meanwhile, Lisa is outgoing and adventurous, unafraid to explore her sexuality and desires. Their attraction is intense, and the two actors portray a sense of excitement and vulnerability that feels genuine.

The film's critical reception has been diverging with some critics praising it for its boldness and cinematic innovation, while others criticized it for excessive nudity and sexually explicit scenes. Those who were enthusiastic about the film emphasized that the graphic depiction of sex was a genuinely groundbreaking move in cinema, as it refused to employ the conventions of softcore pornography or the sanitized sexual content typical of Hollywood productions. The realism and rawness of the sex scenes reflected the pure unfiltered human relationship, shirking away from audience expectation.

On the other hand, critics blamed the film for possessing superficial sexual content and the director for only building chemistry between the actors through intercourse, an approach that undermined the story's appeal. While the film creates an unadulterated picture of sex, its apparent preoccupation with the sexual side of Matt and Lisa’s relationship trivializes and diminishes the emotional intimacy that characterizes their bond.

In conclusion, '9 Songs' is a polarizing film that diverts from the entertainment norm by offering the audience a raw and real depiction of a sexual relationship. Whether it works or not is ultimately down to personal preference, but it's certainly not a movie for viewers who are narrow-minded or easily offended by nudity and explicit sexual content.

9 Songs
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 9 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    4.7  (23,841)
  • Metascore