I didn't know much about this film when I rented it. I knew that John August, who wrote Go and Big Fish, among others, wrote and directed it. I knew that Ryan Reynolds starred as three different characters whose lives intertwined in a yet unknown way. And I knew that it had gotten some good reviews. That's the way to go into The Nines, knowing as little as possible; and I won't give away too much in this review to keep you fresh.
The film is split into three sections, in each Reynolds plays a different character; connected in surprising ways, most noticeably by the characters around them, with Hope Davis and Melissa McCarthy each playing three separate roles. You're lost for much of the film, it does an excellent job of hiding what's really going on until almost the very end, with enough revealed to keep you interested and a few other possibilities thrown in to keep you guessing. The final answer is quite unlike any other film I've ever seen; it's very satisfying and a truly intriguing idea. Afterwards, I couldn't come up with any plot-holes that tore the answer apart, and I imagine it'll hold up and make it a whole other viewing experience the second time around.
In the first section "The Prisoner", Reynolds plays Gary, a semi-famous TV actor who goes on crack binge, and accidentally burns down his ex-girlfriend's house. He ends up in house arrest, with Melissa McCarthy playing a woman hired to watch over him; Hope Davis is his neighbor, a bored-house-wife, who tempts him in new ways. He begins to see strange things, like a ghost of himself living in the house, and odd clues that lead him to believe that reality isn't all that it's cracked up to be. The section ends on an odd note, that leads to more questions than it answers.
In the second section "Reality Television", Reynolds is Gavin, a TV writer who is in the works of his first big pilot, it's shown from the point of view of a reality show that he's appearing on; McCarthy is the lead actress, and Davis is the TV exec in charge of his show. In the third section "Knowing", Reynold's Gabriel is a video game designer, married to McCarthy, with a child and Davis is a weird-mystery woman. I won't give away any more than that, this is a film that truly deserves to be discovered on it's own.
John August has crafted a wonderful little sci-fi, drama, comedy; it's pretty uncategorizable, as it is has comedic elements, is dramatic at times, with an overall fantasy sense to it. The three leads, Reynolds, McCarthy and Davis, each get a chance to shine, in three very different roles. The Nines has a wonderful mystery to it, that is revealed at just the right pace. It's nicely put together, beautifully photographed, in three different styles, with a mix of reality and mysticism. It's not a film for everyone, I think it might be a little to slow for those who are expecting a typical Reynolds comedy; but if you're looking for something more, something different, it is a film that is well worth the journey.