Directed by Michael Winterbottom, starring Kieran O'Brien and Margot Stilley.
Always controversial, British director Michael Winterbottom's latest offering, '9 Songs', is perhaps his most contentious to date. The 65-minute film tells of the short, ill-fated affair between an American girl (Stilley) and an environmental scientist (O'Brien) from London with a passion for music and the Antarctic (from where this may or may not be a reminiscence).
65 minutes in and as the end credits roll this is all that we learn about the couple. Boiled down to the basics of the relationship, the viewer is presented with explicit sex scenes that leave nothing to the imagination and that are only interrupted with shots of the couple at one of nine live concerts. 65 minutes in and as the credits rolled, the reviewer was stumped as to know what this film was supposed to be about.
Short on plot, dialogue, character-development, lighting and complex set-ups, Michael Winterbottom's film has nothing to offer the viewer. Elements of his previous work are present, such as the skilful use of digital video and quasi-documentary style that highlight his usual themes of the seediness and loneliness of life. Perhaps the random blank, white Antarctic scenes and occasional voice-over are hinting at the ultimate failure of all relationships and inevitable isolation. However, the entire film is far too oblique to know exactly what the intent here is.
Overall, this is the laziest attempt at filmmaking that I've yet experienced. With so little of the director's and actors' talent and time invested, it is difficult to come away caring about those involved. The controversy here should not revolve around the explicit nature of the film - which becomes a separate debate on censorship – but rather how those involved could get away with making so little effort and calling the end product a film.