Directed by Rodrigo Garcia (2005)
"Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones, We are made of dreams and bones" - The Garden Song
With one emotionally draining story rapidly following the other, viewing Nine Lives may be the cinematic equivalent of listening to all of Beethoven's symphonies without a pause. The film, written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, son of Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, depicts key moments in the lives of nine women in emotional upheaval. Shot in only eighteen days, this powerful small budget film brings together such outstanding performers as Sissy Spacek, Elpido Carrillo, Robin Wright Penn, Amy Brenneman, Kathy Baker, Holly Hunter, Glenn Close, and Lisa Gay Hamilton and each are magnificent in their small roles. Occasionally, actors from one story reappear in supporting roles in another.
Each story is separate but all are loosely connected by an underlying theme of emotional loss, each segment dramatizing how our relationships can be both solid and fragile at the same time. A happily married pregnant woman goes shopping in a supermarket late at night and meets a former boyfriend and realizes that she will always carry the profound connection they once shared. A teenage girl acts as a buffer between her disabled father and her overburdened mother but suppresses her own feelings. A young woman returns after an absence of many years to confront her abusive stepfather. A phone goes dead when a women prisoner attempts to talk through a window to her young daughter.
In other stories, a woman confronts her anger about undergoing a mastectomy while her husband tries to comfort her in the hospital. A mother visits a cemetery with her little girl that brings to life memories from the past. Shot in one continuous take lasting from ten to fourteen minutes, each characters past is a blank and the future is left to our imagination, but there is never a feeling of incompleteness. Though the dialogue is introspective, it is not overly literary and each piece has a grace and beauty that touches the heart. Awarded the Golden Leopard at the Film Festival in 2005, the stories in Nine Lives last only a few moments, but their emotional richness can last a lifetime.