Original, daring, innovative, evocative, significant talent, and well-crafted are words to describe this fantasy/drama from first time feature film maker Edson Oda, in Nine Days, a film about the meaning of life and the human soul.
Will (Winston Duke, Black Panther) spends his days in a weatherboard house which is distant from reality and surrounded by desert (the film was made in Utah). He spends his time watching people, with souls that he selected for them many years earlier, on a wall of vintage TV screens, while taking detailed notes filed for future reference.
It is a tough job, and when one of his favourites, a young violinist, suicides on the way to a concert, it leaves a vacancy for a new life on earth.
Assisted by Kyo (Benedict Wong) five unborn souls who exist between reality and the after-life arrive one at a time to be interviewed and tested for their ability to handle life on earth.
They are asked to respond to a series of hypothetical situations – and then they have nine days in limbo to prove themselves, or be faded back into nothing. Will arranges for those who are not selected to have one meaningful moment to experience again.
Free spirited Emma (Zazie Beetz, Atlanta. Deadpool) challenges Will’s assumptions about the life he lived many years earlier when he failed to do anything meaningful. But will Will choose Kane (Bill Skarsgard) or her? Who will be left to fade into nothingness?
The film includes a recitation of Walt Whitman’s poem Song of Myself, a long meditation on life and the universe, challenging the viewer to live life in the fullest way possible.
Writer and director Japanese/Brazilian Edson Oda has won awards for short advertising films and music videos. He wrote and directed this film as a celebration of his uncle who suicided. The actors are uniformly good. Wyatt Garfield was the expert cinema photographer and Antonio Pinto scored the wonderful music.
This film may not appeal to everybody but there are plenty of complex ideas to talk about when it is over. It has truths that you can recognise – and personally, I can’t wait to see it again.
Showing at Luna Leederville and Luna SX from July 15th.
Watch the trailer…