9 Songs

New York Premiere

U.K. | 69 MINUTES

9 SONGS

Sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll. There couldn't be a more accurate summary of Michael Winterbottom's bold new film, in which Winterbottom regular Kieran O'Brien and newcomer Margo Stilley play a couple with a fondness for all three. A brief encounter between a British glaciologist and a young American abroad, mulled over during an Antarctic exploration, is recalled in the most honest way possible. Let's face it-a man alone in the Antarctic is not going to be reminiscing about candlelit dinners. The result is in the most sexually explicit English-language film ever made outside the porn industry. Starting out without a script-or even a plot-the actors improvised their way through their unsimulated relationship, with Winterbottom himself often behind the handheld DV camera. In between bouts of safe sex, the lovers head to Brixton Academy for nine songs provided by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Dandy Warhols, Elbow, Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals, the Von Bondies, and band-of-the-moment Franz Ferdinand, and to the Hackney Empire for Michael Nyman's sixtieth birthday concert. Winterbottom, who with movies like 24 Hour Party People and Welcome to Sarajevo seemingly reinvents himself with each film (his next is Laurence Sterne's unfilmable eighteenth-century novel Tristram Shandy), has made a raw, uncompromising film that rips the covers off the Hollywood sex scene, searching for a relationship's truth in its physical expression. For our glaciologist, Antarctica is like "two people in a bed-claustrophobia and agoraphobia in the same place."