‘Nine Days’ is about as life-affirming a movie as there can be

Aug 6, 2021, 12:26 PM

Nine days to live. That’s the premise of this new, refreshingly original movie called Nine Days.

But that premise is not what you think. It’s not about having nine days to live. It’s about having nine days to find out if you get a chance to live at all, a chance to be born. How’s that for an intriguing premise?

‘Stillwater’ does not run deep enough

The set-up is mysterious. A man is in a house in the middle of what seems like a desert or a deserted beach. He sits in a room watching a couple dozen TV screens. The screens are all showing different first-person points-of-view of seemingly random events in daily life. The man watching all these screens occasionally pops in a new old-fashioned VHS tape to record these non-stop goings-on.

One of these screens shows the ongoing life of someone named Amanda. Amanda is a young woman who plays the violin. Shortly after a big performance, Amanda crashes her car into a bridge pillar and unexpectedly dies. The man in the house is distraught, but soon after, he begins a series of interviews with a handful of prospective replacements for Amanda.

He explains to them that he will choose one of them for “the amazing opportunity for life.” Over the course of nine days, the man in the house, whose name we find out is Will, will ask each of these unborn souls a series of tough ethical questions to which there are no right or wrong answers, he says. He then instructs them to watch the TV screens for a prescribed amount of time each day and write down anything they see that they particularly like.

Each of the candidates desperately wants the chance to become alive, but Will assures them there’s nothing they can do to influence his decision. Just follow his instructions, he says.

The movie mostly consists of how the prospective clients respond to what they see on screen and how they respond if and when they’re not chosen for life. The film also shifts its focus ever so gradually to Will himself.

Nine Days is a rich, somber, moody work of art. At one point, an applicant laughs nervously at one of Will’s questions: “This is heavy s—. Why can’t we relax? Everything’s so serious,” he notes, uncomfortably. Moviegoers might feel similarly about this film. It definitely weighs on you. There’s a sense of impending doom throughout.

But at the same time, this is about as life-affirming a movie as there can be. Every so often, the candidates break through their nagging fears and desperation, and experience, ever so briefly, moments of joy, or resolve, or pleasure, or indignation, or simple acceptance. Those moments have great resonance. Their time at the house can be worthwhile no matter how it ends.

It turns out you can live a lifetime in nine days.

Listen to the Tom and Curley Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 7 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Tom Tangney


Tom Tangney

Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Belfast’ is a crowd-pleaser that doesn’t quite hit the mark

"Belfast" has plenty to recommend itself but it's not nearly the moving testament to fraught times that Kenneth Branagh thinks it is or wants it to be.

2 years ago

Eternals, Marvel...

Tom Tangney

‘Eternals’ has to do a lot of heavy lifting for a single film

Imagine the daunting task Marvel sets for itself in "Eternals." It has to introduce 10 new superheroes, not to mention an entirely new cosmology.

2 years ago

French Dispatch...

Tom Tangney

‘The French Dispatch’ is unmistakably Andersonian

Wes Anderson is an acquired taste. But luckily, after 10 full-length movies, most critics and many movie-goers have acquired it.

2 years ago


Tom Tangney

All set-up and no payoff: ‘Dune’ is world’s longest and most expensive trailer

It's hard to find the right metaphor for the new "Dune" movie. Whatever comparison you choose, it must reflect a sense of incompletion.

2 years ago

Last Duel...

Tom Tangney

Poor Marguerite’s story saves ‘The Last Duel’

Tom Tangney says, ultimately, The Last Duel is a proto-feminist take on the Middle Ages with Marguerite's take that brings the film into focus.

2 years ago

James Bond...

Tom Tangney

Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie comes full-circle

The 25th installment in the James Bond movie franchise may be titled "No Time to Die," but "Too Much Time to Die" may be more fitting.

2 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

‘Nine Days’ is about as life-affirming a movie as there can be