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Film Details

Directed by: Michael Winterbottom

Produced: 2005

Countries & Regions: United Kingdom

DVD Details

Certificate: 18

Length: 69 mins

Format: DVD

Region: Region 2

Released: 27 June 2005

Cat No: OPTD0255

Extras:
Languages(s): English
Interactive Menu
Screen ratio 1:1.85
Dolby Digital 5.1

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9 Songs

Cast: Margot Stilley , Kieran O Brien , Margo Stilley

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Controversial and sexually explicit drama from director Michael Winterbottom. Matt (Kieran O’Brien) meets Lisa (Margo Stilley), an... Read More

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Controversial and sexually explicit drama from director Michael Winterbottom. Matt (Kieran O’Brien) meets Lisa (Margo Stilley), an American student studying in London, at a rock concert at the Brixton Academy. Winterbottom explores the nature of their relationship through a specific focus on their sex life, juxtaposing this with footage of the bands the couple go and see in concert.

Far more people wrote about 9 Songs than bothered to see it - its many scenes of actual penetrative sex, oral sex and masturbation were a gift to the ever-outraged tabloids, whilst soi-disant sophisticates queued up to label the film boring and untitillating. Michael Winterbottom, one of the UK’s most unpredictable directors, juggles three narrative strands - we see the couple fucking, the couple going to see concerts at the Brixton academy, and the man, now working in the South Pole looking back on the ended relationship months later. Whether you love or hate this film depends on your personal reaction to the relationship depicted - Winterbottom’s apparent theory that the main things one remembers from a relationship are the sex and the music is not for all. Nevertheless, the film is refreshingly matter-of-fact (this is not a trenchant study of sexual desire in the Breillat vein, simply a depiction of a relationship), and the live performances, which include The Dandy Warhols, Franz Ferdinand and Michael Nyman, are frequently electrifying. 9 Songs is an unusual and daring film in an industry that increasingly favours mainstream conformism.

New films that test the ever-looser bonds of censorship seem to appear by the month these days, but Michael Winterbottom's taboo-busting piece is more eye-opening than most. All of the traditional no-no's are dispatched here, as the two young protagonists indulge in every kind of sexual activity (and two images, forbidden for years to mainstream audiences are included: female genitals and ejaculation. The nine songs of the title consist of concert footage of such artists as Super Furry Animals, and anyone reading this review will already have a view as to whether or not and these are to their taste. The days when elderly maiden aunts (of both sexes) decided what we could and could not watch seem ever further away.

I rated 9 Songs highly, the more so because I entered the Picturehouse expecting to be disappointed.The film is positively joyous, ‘joie de vivre’ is the leitmotif that cojoins the intercut sexual and musical sequences.

9 Songs has little interest in character or plot; it doesn’t show us how Matt and Lisa meet, only where.There is huge physical attraction, and love between the two might well have developed,-the basis is there, recalling Woody Allen’s ‘Sex without love is a shallow experience, but as shallow experiences go, it’s one of the best.’

The two actors (Kieran O'Brien and Margot Stilley) had clearly got to know and like one another in the Elizabethan sense well before shooting started.Their relationship is pure sex, and puts me in mind of famous lines from Eskimo Nell:

So she came out West where the fucking’s best/ and when she fucked she fucked for keeps/And piled her victims up in heaps.

The film should be shown on every university campus. Both Matt and Lisa are attractive in looks and personality, and both go to it with a will. It is not just the variety of positions that is educational, but the long and tender foreplay, their openly expressed emotions, and the sense that this is what youth is all about (or if it isn’t, it damned well should be!) The film is informed by a sense of fun, and the same urge to live life to the full that is evident in the musical sequences, with their joyous participatory audiences (they were enjoyable because they weren't too loud.)

Exeter City councillors would have hated the film, had they bothered to go and see it before banning it. Why? The relevant quote is from TS Eliot: 'Where is the life we lost in living?'

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