9 Songs: Who Knew That Sex Is Dreary and Boring? (Review)

Matt, a young glaciologist, soars across the vast, silent, icebound immensities of the South Pole as he recalls his love affair with Lisa. They meet at a mobbed rock concert in a vast music hall – London’s Brixton Academy. They are in bed at night’s end. Together, over a period of several months, they pursue a mutual sexual passion whose stages unfold in counterpoint to nine live-concert songs.

That’s the capsule description of Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs. If it sounds interesting, trust me, it isn’t.

There are apparently two selling points for this film. The secondary one is that it has “exclusive” live performances of nine songs by various artists including The Von Bondies and The Dandy Warhols. These performances, however, are shot with artless camera work and bad sound, and are worse than many amateur bootleg concert videos you can find on YouTube.

The primary selling point is that in this movie, the actors playing the young couple in love actually have sex. And it’s shown in graphic detail. Quite graphic at times. Which means, I suppose, that it’s a porn flick, in spite of its indie pretensions at examining the fluctuations of a romantic/sexual relationship, but it’s a curiously passionless and unstimulating variety of porn at best.

Winterbottom’s characters are unlikeable, which is allowable, but also uninteresting, which isn’t. Watching them relate, in all ways, makes human relationships actually look off-putting.

There is little story here, and what there is is bookended around the song videos. It’s as if the writer/director had so little story he decided to use the songs as filler material. The result, at 71 minutes, is one of the subjectively longest damn movies I’ve ever seen.

Every few minutes I clicked up the onscreen display to see how much time was left. It always seemed far too much, even at only three or so minutes remaining. At one point, I realized I’d actually picked up a book and started reading without thinking about it. That has never happened to me during any movie before. It was like my brain was seeking to bandage a wound in its stimulation.

Consider yourself warned. 9 Songs, in spite of its dull sexuality (I started to write carnality, but there’s nothing truly carnal about it), is a complete bore. Watching a toaster will probably arouse you more.

I feel like my head’s been wrapped in plaster. Time to go find something to awaken my senses again, because I think they gave up on me while watching this thing.

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