One of the hottest directorial debuts to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival back in January was “Nine Days,” an existential fantasy that ponders purgatory, the afterlife, and the fate of unborn souls from filmmaker Edson Oda. Executive-produced by Spike Jonze, the film features an impressive indie cast including Zazie Beetz, Bill Skarsgård, Winston Duke, Benedict Wong, and Tony Hale. Watch the first trailer from Sony Pictures Classics, which will release the film in early 2021, below.
Here’s the (admittedly heady) official synopsis: “Will (Winston Duke) spends his days in a remote outpost watching the live Point of View (POV) on TV’s of people going about their lives, until one subject perishes, leaving a vacancy for a new life on earth. Soon, several candidates — unborn souls — arrive at Will’s to undergo tests determining their fitness, facing oblivion when they are deemed unsuitable. But Will soon faces his own existential challenge in the form of free-spirited Emma (Zazie Beetz), a candidate who is not like the others, forcing him to turn within and reckon with his own tumultuous past. Fueled by unexpected power, he discovers a bold new path forward in his own life.”
Japanese-Brazilian director Oda, with a background in short films and music videos prior to making his feature debut with “Nine Days,” won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award in the Dramatic section at Sundance. Praise was high out of Park City, and next the film will play virtually at this month’s AFI FEST.
From IndieWire’s review: “‘Nine Days’ has enough depth and intrigue to suggest the material for a short that never quite found its way, though some viewers may find its open-ended spiritual implications compelling enough to roll with its overwrought second half. For this one, however, the movie overextends itself by shrugging off the eerie world-building to let the metaphors take charge; by the end, the premise has devolved into an actor’s showcase with a flimsy foundation. There’s certainly enough here to provoke meaningful questions that transcend the boundaries of the frame, and ‘Nine Days’ hits a commendable note about the value of embracing life’s unpredictable turns. But no matter its celestial implications, the movie can’t shake the impression of a brilliant concept that never takes flight.”