A suspenseful sci-fi more like a high-brow thriller that is really a celebration of life.
The title Nine Days makes me think of a cat’s nine lives or Beethoven’s ninth-symphonic celebration of life. Anyhow, the Brazilian-born, US-based writer director Edson Oda has a terrific Terrance-Malick-like ode to life with an imaginative sci-fi indie that takes us to where no artist has ever gone.
Somewhere in a limbo-like desert a few souls not yet born but in human form try out in front of Will (Winston Duke), who will decide which one deserves to be human. Among them are a sybarite Alexander (Tony Hale), a perpetually-feeling-victimized candidate, Mike (David Rysdahl), and a rationalist (Bill Skarsgard). Best of all is the free spirit Emma (Zazie Beetz), whom Will can’t understand until later on in the days.
Although they are learning about “real life” from multiple TV monitors from earth private lives, what they learn in these nine testing days is all they need to know about what it means to be human. Will’s baggage from real life is instructive about the vicissitudes of life and the attendant longing for permanent love.
Because the candidates are regularly asked to document the grace moments of their short lives (e.g., laughing with someone, letting sand sift through fingers), they provide us with the paradigm for a happy life: enjoy the small things. Oda even uses Whitman’s lyrical celebration of himself to capture this carpe diem attitude.
As I left the theater in high spirits, I was ultra-happy to have won a spot in life thinking how difficult Oda made candidacy for his purgatory-like suffering souls. I celebrated the small things of life as well as myself.
Nine Days is an inspirational film with enough suspense and new ideas to satisfy a wide spectrum of audiences.
See it and love life. At Gateway and several theaters.
Director: Edson Oda (Malaria)
Cast: Winston Duke (Black Panther)
Run Time: 2h 4m
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com