9 SONGS (Michael Winterbottom). 69 minutes. Opens Friday (September 23). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NN Rating: NN
The best mixtapes trigger emotions by stringing songs together into a narrative that says something heartfelt to both the creator and the listener.
9 Songs , Brit art-house director Michael Winterbottom 's lusty study of an affair between 20-something scenesters, strives to be a dreamy mixtape on film, in which Matt ( Kieran O'Brien ) recalls his relationship with Lisa ( Margo Stilley ) through the framework of nine rock shows.
Between Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Elbow and Franz Ferdinand gigs, the duo smoke, snort lines, shag and say very little. Winterbottom eschews dialogue and depth in order to focus on full-on fucking. Attention: this is actual sex, not simulated, and Marcel Zyskind 's gorgeously lit but gritty DV-cam aesthetic emphasizes the indie porn vibe.
But even the sex goes nowhere. This isn't the sex-as-escapism of Last Tango In Paris; it's not even the clinical deconstruction of a Catherine Breillat movie. It's just fucking to fill space.
Maybe Winterbottom was trying to make a 21st-century romance that inverts typical rom-com conventions -- instead of gorgeous lovebirds getting to know each other, you get normal-looking people having graphic sex in a mundane relationship, with the barest suggestion of who they really are.
Problem is, if we don't understand these characters, it's impossible to care about their silly mixtape.