Nine Days (2020)
Well now I've had twenty-four hours off to open all of my Valentines (snort), and have finally realised a couple of months late that I have been on Letterboxd for more than ten years (since Jan 2012) we're back at it with Nine Days. If you aren't in an interview with the man that decides your very existence, do you really exist at all while you're waiting for him to make his mind up? If you do, then where are you when not being interviewed? The eternal waiting room?
Starring Winston Duke as Will and Benedict Wong as Kyo, these two curious gentleman have a very important job to do, which they care deeply about and carry out their respective roles with all due diligence. They, through batches of candidate interviews and exercises, choose souls to be born.
Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep starred in 'Defending Your Life' more than three decades ago, which took a comedic stance on a very similar premise. Where Brooks had to defend the life he had already lived for the chance to move on or being forced to live again if he failed, our characters here are at least a couple of steps behind, fighting for the right to live at all. And Will has the final word.
Heavy huh? Well, you might imagine so, but this is often quite poignant and equal parts tragic and considered. There are no fireworks or explosions, but this is quite literally about the fragility of the soul. Or souls, in this case. And you and I are included, as this is as much about us as everyone you both know and don't know.
This is quite a simple tale, with 'last soul standing' winning the game, if you can describe the victory of existence in a Battle Royale so crassly. The group we are introduced to are slowly whittled down for one reason or another by Will in his unhurried deliberations. Those not deemed suitable are offered a 'last moment' before being removed from whatever this place is, never to realise life.
Winston Duke's Will really takes centre stage for the majority of the story and over time, the questions of his own reasons for being here, doing what he's doing, are slowly unravelled.
An intriguing project, with human faith and frailty most prevalent. It is delicately directed with some nice flourishes and strong individual performances throughout. The script is considered and the exposition brief, where some may prefer a little more clarity, being something of an extended headscratcher.
Nonetheless, this is an engaging, sometimes subtle, articulate examination of humanity. And the lack of it.