Nine Days is quite the contemplative film. It dabbles in some high-concept existentialism and evokes themes explored in both 1998’s observational psychological drama The Truman Show and this year’s Oscar-winning animated movie Soul. Chew on that for a while. Then go check it out.
Here’s the gist: Somewhere in the middle of god knows where, a guy named Will (Winston Duke, Black Panther, Us) sits on a couch watching a wall of TVs hooked up to VCRs. Those TVs are showing live, point of view shots of various people going about their daily lives. When one of those lives – a violin protégé – ends abruptly, it opens up a ‘vacancy’ for a new life on earth. Next thing you know, several candidates – unborn souls– show up at Will’s door to compete for the job, i.e. a shot at life. Will has a standard series of tests he uses to evaluate the candidates over the course of nine days. Only one will make it through. The rest face oblivion.
The candidates are an interesting and diverse bunch played by David Rysdahl, Marianna Ortiz, Tony Hale, Bill Skarsgard and Zazie Beetz (Joker), whose free-spirited character Emma rattles Will and forces him to confront some things from his past. Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange, Avengers) plays Kyo, a mysterious character who oversees Will’s selection process in what has to be the most unusual HR department ever.
Nine Days was written and directed by Edson Oda, a Japanese Brazilian filmmaker. It’s his first feature film after a series of award-winning short films and music videos. And it’s a good one. The film is very quiet and engrossing and thought-provoking as it ponders what people might choose to do in their final moments if they knew their existence was coming to an end. Among other things.
This is one of those films where the less you know going in, the better. So I’ll just leave it there.
Nine Days expands to theaters nationwide on August 6.