Nine Days

Edson Oda’s riveting haiku on the meaning of life.

Two years in a row, I’ve seen movies with such existential ideas: “Soul,” which was my pick of the Best Film of last year, and now “Nine Days,” which was written and directed by Edson Oda, who was inspired by “The Tree of Life” and “After Life” to make this Indie. We have to go to Heaven to find out the true meaning of life, but in my aspects, it’s mostly about being human and learning the qualities and difficulties along your timeline.

It’s a film that questions the meaning of life, and provides us vivid characters who try and fail to grasp what they’re meant to become on Earth. I’ll explain in a little bit, but I want to inform you how dazzling and absorbing “Nine Days” is.

Winston Duke (“Black Panther,” “Us”) stars as a man named Will, who examines the lives of individuals on Earth-their goals, hobbies, and choices, and so forth. He watches them all on VHS tapes on various TV sets, each more vintage than the last, and jots down notes no matter how insignificant they are. And if someone dies, that’s when the tape ends.

His only friend and faithful assistant is Kyo (Benedict Wong), who usually comes over the watch the videos and isn’t allowed to interview the souls, because he’s never been alive, but it’s his job to point out souls.

Let me clarify.

It looks like he lives in a house in the middle of nowhere, but really he resides in the Great Before, where his occupation is to give new souls nine days to see if they fit the vacancy. He gives them names-Tony Hale as Alexander, Bill Skarsgard as Kane, David Rysdahl as Mike, Arianna Ortiz as Maria, and Zazie Beetz as Emma-and they may look like adults, but they’re hours and minutes old (Ex: “I’m 4-Hours Old”).

Actually, the names are just temporarily until they get born, and he gives them a test question about what to do in a drastic situation, as well as such dazzling simulations of the some of the joys on Earth. The best moments in particular is when Will allows Mike to experience the beach’s erosions and Maria to ride a bike. And the ones who fail disappear.

Out of the current interviewees, Emma wonders about Will’s existence-what was it like to be alive. And out of all the previous selected, he ponders why a young violinist named Amanda only express her tears during a concerto before her tragic death. He can’t seem to grasp what was really going on in her world, as well as his own.

“Nine Days” allows Duke to take on a less commercial role, and provide him with a character study so complex, that it’s easily sentimental and valuable. Oda guides him on the right path, and he also casts Hale, Skarsgard, Beetz, Wong, Ortiz, and Rysdahl as various characters who have their own aspects on life and what they acknowledge or don’t. Most them don’t make the cut, but one of them does, and it all depends on how the main protagonist determines them.

The movie has the nerve to ease us into the story without jumping to conclusions. It leaves us thinking about our existence as well as those who never made it to Earth. If you get erased, where do you go? Nobody knows. And if you made it to Earth (and that’s a big duh because you’re reading this review right now), was the soul your own appearance or was it somebody different? “Nine Days” expresses its views on life in some of the most emotional aspects ever recorded on film, and this is something to see.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

Categories: Drama, Fantasy

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