AFI Fest: Nine Days Review

A reclusive man conducts a series of interviews with human souls for a chance to be born.

Right out of the gate, Edson Oda paints this beautiful portrait of growing up with a poetic and beautiful score in the background. We watch scenes transition from the time Amanda was a baby until she was an adult.

We are slowly introduced into the world of “Nine Days”. The meaning behind the videos, the writing, and the idea of who and what Will is and does.

We then see Will interviewing potential candidates to join this world of “Nine Days”. Some of the candidates are questioned orientated, some are intrigued, and others are submissive to the idea.

As we begin to peel back each person’s individual layers going through this process, Will vets them with ideas and goals to see how they perform in certain circumstances. Every move that’s made, Will takes notes. His job is to get in the individual’s mind and determine if they are worthy enough to take this next step.

Above all, it begs these questions.

What is the meaning of life? – I often think about this question.
What do I want out of life? – I often think about this question.
What do I want to be remembered for? – I often think about this question.

Typical questions we ask ourselves as we circle through life, but Oda poses the question if we had a life to live again, where would we begin.

Winston Duke, I don’t even know what to begin to say about his performance. Will, he is giving potential life to others, and while he does it throughout the film, he embodies the idea of ‘life’ but in this lifeless way where every move feels like he is over excreting himself. Winston had the mannerisms and characteristics that makes Will work. From posture to facial expressions to the way words fell off his tongue, I was captivated by every intricacy of Will in a way that put me in his mind.

Technically speaking, we are rewarded with this pulsating and harmonic score that carries the film throughout. Antonio Pinto reminds the audience how important a score is for a movie and how it is capable of being so good that it adds an extra layer.

The same can be said about Wyatt Garfield and the color palette chosen to bring out the ‘life’ in this film. The dark colors fit our little dark world, and as we step outside, we see this cotton candy painted sky that draws you into the idea of more.

Films are made to evoke emotions, but the best kinds of films are the ones that leave you with questions about what you would do within these same circumstances. Edson Oda’s writing articulates this personal viewing experience that challenges you about life, its value, its importance, and what we want out of it.

As the conclusion of our film nears, chills run down my spine as we witness Will break down the barrier of which was uncharacteristic of anything we had seen from him yet. We saw the life inside of HIM pour out onto the screen as his words were powerful, and they soar through the air as you hang onto every last breath. You are Will, Winston is Will, and we have witnessed the birth of a new life within this moment.

The Verdict:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Edson Oda presented a beautiful piece of filmmaking that will be remembered for years to come. The script is authentic, original, captivating, and just something that inspires you to want to create something of this nature. For this to be his first feature blows my mind.

Winston Duke, I’ve stated before that one day he would be an Oscar-Nominated Actor, and folks, after this performance, he will be without a doubt. This is hands down the best performance I have seen this year, and it’s not even remotely close.

Nine Days is a breathtaking cinematic experience that challenges us to re-examine our lives. 

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