Review: Sundance Film Festival favorite 'Nine Days' is a perspective-changing experience

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Winston Duke stars in Nine Days (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)

Nine Days
4 out of 5 Stars
Edson Oda
Writer: Edson Oda
Starring: Winston Duke, Benedict Wong, Zazie Beetz
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Rated: R for language

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Will is tasked with interviewing a group of souls who are vying for the opportunity to be born.

Review: Will (Winston Duke) lives alone in a house that is seemingly on the edge of nowhere. He’s occasionally joined by Kyo (Benedict Wong). Will is tasked with interviewing souls desiring to be born. When not conducting interviews, Will watches a bank of televisions that display the live broadcasts of the souls he has approved to be born. He and Kyo are particularly fond of a young woman who is an extraordinary musician.

“Nine Days” is the sort of high-concept film that could quickly devolve into a pseudo-intellectual melodrama. It doesn’t and that’s only one of many reasons that Edson Oda’s film should be recognized, seen, and celebrated. You'd never guess that this is Oda's first feature-length film.

“Nine Days” is less about what makes a person worthy to live and more about the reason why a person should want to live. Through the applicants, Will (and by extension the audience) is offered the opportunity to explore different perspectives. It allows for self-exploration. That’s not necessarily a journey Will is willing to take.

Will is not the creator and he certainly isn’t perfect or omniscient. Still, he watches over his chosen few that he has sent into the world as if they were his own children. He takes upon himself their mistakes and failures. This inevitably colors the way he views the new souls who are set before him. Those candidates are played by Tony Hale, Bill Skarsgård, Arianna Ortiz, David Rysdahl, and Zazie Beetz. Beetz’s Emma is particularly perplexing for Will. If there is a sense of warmth in “Nine Days” it radiates from Emma.

There are a handful of moments that stray into sentimentality. Life sometimes strays into sentimentality. “Nine Days” isn’t filled with philosophy or a search for what exists beyond the horizon. It asks us to look at what is sitting right in front of us. Sometimes what is obvious isn’t obvious until it’s shown to us.

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