A review of “Nine Lives” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: R for language and mature themes

Run Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

 

 

This loosely knit collection of women’s tales is the cinematic equivalent of a satisfying volume of delicious short stories.

Nine women tenuously connected by friends and fate are represented by short but powerful vignettes on love, loss, fear, anxiety and commitment. The camera swoops in on lives in progress, making itself at home for ten minutes plus and creeping out without closure but with a heady sense of continuation.

Powerhouse actresses take a stand with understated sway. A pregnant Robin Wright Penn runs into an old lover at the grocery store and burns with fragmentary longing. Sissy Spacek is torn between guilt and desire as she stands on the threshold of adultery.

Holly Hunter listens in apprehension as her main squeeze details their most intimate moments to friends while brilliant student Amanda Seyfriend is being crushed by the incessant the needs of her disabled dad and co-dependent mom.

These fleeting chapters are awash in the heightened state of emotion that is distinctly woman. Director Rodrigo García shoots each sketch in a single continuous take; no break in the consistency of sorrow or sentiment.

The men get their day in the sun too, a cornucopia of male talent from Joe Mantegna and Jason Isaacs to Stephen Dillane and Aidan Quinn.

Set-ups and pacing are intense and unfeigned; no smoke and mirrors and no Hollywood endings. Back-to-back interludes feel a bit lengthy but can’t dim the sensibility: I am woman, hear me roar.