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9 Songs

Title: 9 Songs

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Stars: Kieran O'Brien, Margot Stilley

Reviewer: Matt Eccles

Rating (out of 10): 3


Notorious for numerous extended scenes of unsimulated, graphic sex, Michael Winterbottomís small experimental piece is, in one respect, a landmark release in British cinema. Depictions in (relatively) mainstream films of real sex between actors is not unprecedented (as seen in Catherine Breillatís Romance and Patrice Chereauís Intimacy, for example), and the British Board of Film Classification will pass such scenes uncut if they are deemed justified by context. However, the main narrative of 9 Songs is told almost entirely through various images of intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, ejaculation and masturbation (though not necessarily in that order).

The bed partners, Matt (Kieran OíBrien) and Lisa (Margo Stilley), meet at a gig at Londonís Brixton Academy and basically sleep together a lot. Eight other concerts serve as interludes in between the coitus and explain the title. The film follows the gradual downward spiral of the lovers' relationship, until it is simply and abruptly broken off.

Although 9 Songs was never meant to be entertainment in the classical sense, it is still unrelentingly and inexcusably dull. Of course, the aim may well be to convey the emptiness and fatalism of the coupleís relationship, and despite - or perhaps because of - the unflinching presentation of authentic sex, the film is impressively unerotic. However, the film is overwhelmed by a gaping lack of insight and two characters who simply fail to engage any significant emotional response. Their mostly improvised dialogue is unforgivably loopy and banal and quickly erodes their credibility beyond repair; the filmís 70 minutes feels longer as a result.

So where Winterbottomís film could and should have made astute and fruitful observations, it remains sterile and barren. This gives the overall impression that 9 Songs doesnít seem to credit its audience with the same respect as the Board that saw fit to pass it completely uncensored.

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