I’m not sure where to begin with reviewing 9 Songs. It’s not that I’m offended by the most graphic sex footage I’ve yet seen on screen, it’s that I’m not quite sure I got the point.
Attempting to tell the story of a one-year relationship primarily by observing the couple’s sex life, 9 Songs is voyeurism in the extreme. Matt and Lisa attend music concerts, they meet at one in fact, and they have sex. That’s it apparently. We’re not shown their external lives – although we’re told Lisa has a job, and Matt has a laptop he occasionally glances at, which suggests he has one too – we spend most of the 69 minutes of this film watching them screw. On the table, in the bath, orally, vaginally, by hand, by appliance… there isn’t much we don’t see here. With close up shots, erections and ejaculations, and ‘actual’ sex (as opposed to simulated like in Hollywood), 9 Songs is more a porn flick than I had realised, going some way to explaining the recent fuss about whether it should be banned in Australia. (It had originally been rated ‘X’ by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, but this was reduced to an ‘R’ on appeal).
All of this sex is dressed up as meaningful and instructional on the development and eventual failure of their relationship, which it sadly isn’t, and we are also subjected to flyovers of Antarctica of all places, supposedly with some significance as simile. Much of this falls flat, unfortunately, leaving this film as barren of substance as the plateaus of the Ross Ice Shelf.
The leads struggle along, with little dialogue and almost no acting required – they are no more than meat, manipulated this way and that by their director. The cinematography is of the hand-held style I despise, with poorly lit shots cluttered with shadows. The bizarre use of lens filters also makes much of what is shown difficult to actually see – maybe explaining the reduction in the OFLC’s rating? The score is plain annoying, and the use of live footage of many of Britain’s major rock bands fails to lift this film – the concert scenes, which I assume were supposed to educate us further, only serve to break up the sex.
This is a very disappointing film, so obsessed with showing every variation of sexual position and act, that it fails to allow any variation in character. Its heroes are one-dimensional sex objects, whose eventual separation came as a relief.Rating: