9 SONGS (2004)


Written & Directed By: Michael Winterbottom
Cinematography By: Marcel Zyskind
Editor: Michael Winterbottom & Mat Whitecross

Cast: Kieran O’Brien, Margo Stilley

QMatt, a young glaciologist, soars across the vast, silent, icebound immensities of the South Pole as he recalls his love affair with Lisa. They meet at a mobbed rock concert in a vast music hall

London’s Brixton Academy. They are in bed at night’s end. Together, over a period of several months, they pursue a mutual sexual passion whose inevitable stages unfold in counterpoint to nine live-concert songs.


A film that has great premise or great ideas and could have been great or a classic bit somehow ruined it’s promise and just went down a bad road.

This film is more sexual then sexy. While it charts a relationship troughs it the titular 9 songs. It involves the young man on a arctic expedition thinking back on the relationship. Though The film seems to try to show a natural expression of passion. It seems aimed to be controversial and really ends up being much ado about nothing.

Now it sounds more interesting and experimental then the film actually ends up being and that was my major problem with the film. I guess I was expecting too much from it. This is one of those film that fascinates at least for me on the fact that it is a noble failure.

On one hand it truly shows how shallow the relationship was as most of the scenes are memories of sexually adventurous conquests with her and seeing concerts together. Sure there is an intimacy there but never an emotional one.

As he is stranded and alone with little to do as far as recreation of course he is going to want to remember the lively fun times. Not the dramatic ones. Which is brilliant but not entirely satisfying. As it feels purely ID based instead of having an emotions center. It could be called erotica, but comes off as art porno. As like porn these days there is barely a plot to hold the scenes together, rather more of a theme and suggestions. Almost a thesis.

The film was released as “9 Orgasms” in Mexico and Slovenia.

I feel the filmmaker was trying to show what it’s like to be young where you don’t know the dramatic things you are going through until you look back and notice it. How more relationships you think are deep are more sex and lust based when you are young. How more is revealed in the bedroom and what you are willing to do when it’s only you a d that other person. Knowing those secrets as what happens there is something your friends nor family experience with you nor would you way to, but also a side and experiences you share only with that other person so really almost a stranger knows that intimate part of you.

Of course I might be digging into the film more then was intended as it is extreme yet vague. It feels like music was added as that is something to attract an audience cross promotional. As it gives exposure to and from each artists audience and the films. You already have a soundtrack set up to base your scenes upon. Since there is barely any dialogue anyway. It also shows that when you’re young it seems the two subjects that are felt passionately are music and sex for most and they easily compliment each other. Kieran O’Brien and Margo Stilley did not communicate with each other between filming so that their off-screen relationship would not affect the one they had on screen. The two leads only had three days to get acquainted before filming. The sex scenes were shot with only the two actors, the director, the cameraman, and the soundman on the set.

Margo Stilley never wanted to be credited in the film because of the unsimulated, explicit sex scenes. She asked the director to refer to her in interviews as “Lisa”, the name of her character in the film.

Like I mentioned before also the fact that when younger you are more willing to experiment that also seems to be the main theme and tone of the film.

This film can be considered art porn like many films that came out around that time that either seemed to be pushing the boundaries with heavily sexually themed movies that pushed buttons or films that have the actors (supposedly) having actual sex sometimes even showing penetration. These films were usually foreign films like MA MERE, ROMANCE, BAISE-MOI, BATTLE IN HEAVEN. Usually these films were supposed To be deep with a underlying theme, though as a witness to them they usually were bad and only noteworthy for the sex scenes. Which then felt like when people my age were kids before the internet and stayed up late to watch films on cable that were advertised with nudity and sexual situations. Often sitting through crappy or boring movies for these scenes to pop up.

Shooting time for the film was projected as ten weeks. The cast and crew ended up shooting for five months. Director Michael Winterbottom shot over 200 hours of digital video.

That is one of the aspects that has always interested me about the director Michael Winterbottom. He has an output similar to Woody Allen, where it seems like he puts out one film each year and his films are always in some way challenging and experimental. As he approaches each new film like a new painting that he is drawing and is inspired by during filming.

It also has the trend at the time of casting new comers as actors. It keeps budgets down and allows you to have actors who don’t come Into the film with followers who identify the actor not necessarily the role they are playing. No preconceived notions do you have to deal with as the filmmaker. That the audience might associate with the actors. Probably the thought was that the film would be so controversial and in effect so lauded that the cast members would become stars off of it which sometimes works like in the 70’s though usually doesn’t as there are plenty of surprise hit films where the cast members seemed on the peak of stardom only to virtually disappears THE BLAIR WITH PROJECT, OPEN WATER, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. This film’s stars included though then again this film wasn’t a hot. It didn’t even have that much controversy maybe audiences had grown used to this sort of film. Maybe it thought the FILM was trying to hard and pandering to certain audiences

Which brings us to the sex scenes the film goes for realism as they don’t seem styled they are plain though strangely never sloppy. Quick and raw. While I can applaud the film for that. As this seems to be the main entertainment of the film. It would have been nice to make them at least more exciting or live up to being erotic. Instead it just leaves the audience as an awkward witness.

Grade: C

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