Nine Lives (2005 film)

Nine Lives is a 2005 American drama film written and directed by Rodrigo García. The screenplay, an example of hyperlink cinema, relates nine short, loosely intertwined tales with nine different women at their cores. Their themes include parent-child relationships, fractured love, adultery, illness, and death. Similar to García's previous work, Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her, it is a series of overlapping vignettes, each one running about the same length and told in a single, unbroken take, featuring an ensemble cast.

Nine Lives
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRodrigo García
Produced byJulie Lynn
Written byRodrigo García
StarringSissy Spacek
Glenn Close
Holly Hunter
Lisa Gay Hamilton
Kathy Baker
Amanda Seyfried
Amy Brenneman
Robin Wright Penn
Aidan Quinn
K Callan
Dakota Fanning
Ian McShane
Mary Kay Place
Molly Parker
Sydney Tamiia Poitier
Elpidia Carrillo
Jason Isaacs
Miguel Sandoval
Joe Mantegna
Music byEd Shearmur
CinematographyXavier Pérez Grobet
Edited byAndrea Folprecht
Distributed byMagnolia Pictures
Release date
  • October 14, 2005 (2005-10-14)
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,562,923


  • Imprisoned Sandra (Elpidia Carrillo) has an emotional breakdown when the broken telephone in her cubicle prevents her from communicating with her daughter on visiting day.
  • Diana (Robin Wright Penn) and Damian (Jason Isaacs), two former flames now married to others, unexpectedly have a poignant reunion in the aisle of the local supermarket.
  • Holly (Lisa Gay Hamilton) returns home to confront her sexually abusive stepfather and dissolves into gun-waving hysteria.
  • Feuding married couple Sonia (Holly Hunter) and Martin (Stephen Dillane) have an emotional meltdown while visiting their friends Lisa (Molly Parker) and Damian (Jason Isaacs) in their new apartment.
  • Teenaged Samantha (Amanda Seyfried) is torn between her non-communicative parents Ruth (Sissy Spacek), and Larry (Ian McShane), each of whom questions her about everything the other one has to say.
  • Divorcée Lorna (Amy Brenneman) must cope with her ex-husband Andrew's (William Fichtner) sexual desire for her during his second wife's funeral.
  • Ruth (Sissy Spacek), primary caretaker for her wheelchair-using husband, becomes increasingly guilt-ridden during a tryst with drunken widower Henry (Aidan Quinn) in a hotel.
  • Camille (Kathy Baker) is facing breast cancer surgery and uses her waiting time to lash out at her quietly supportive husband Richard (Joe Mantegna).
  • Maggie (Glenn Close) discusses life with her daughter Maria (Dakota Fanning) during a picnic in the cemetery and realizes how much she needs the little girl's loving comfort.


The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2005 and was shown at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Locarno Film Festival, where it won the Golden Leopard for Best Film and the entire cast was awarded the Bronze Leopard for Best Actress, before going into limited release in the US in October. It opened on seven screens and earned $28,387 in its opening weekend. It eventually grossed $478,830 in the US and $1,084,093 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $1,562,923.[2]


The Nine Women

Supporting players

Critical reception

Stephen Holden of The New York Times described it as "a film that may be the closest movies have come to the cinematic equivalent of a collection of Chekhov short stories. The film's reward for intense concentration is a feeling of deep empathy and connection. For once, you don't harbor the uneasy suspicion of having been emotionally manipulated ... Mr. García has made a film that could be described as radically realistic ... In its subtle, understated performances, the actors vanish into characters who behave like ordinary people observed through one-way glass."[3]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said, "Rodrigo Garcia ... the son of the novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez ... has the same love for his characters, and although his stories are all (except for one) realistic, he shares his father's appreciation for the ways lives interweave and we touch each other even if we are strangers. A movie like this, with the appearance of new characters and situations, focuses us; we watch more intently, because it is important what happens."[4]

Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle called the film "an emotionally satisfying example of a genre whose sketchiness can be off-putting" and added, "García knows how to create juicy roles for actresses, and they return the favor with performances of such concentrated intensity that you cannot take your eyes off them."[5]

Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune awarded the film four out of five stars, describing it as "one of the most interesting and original American films out right now" and "a disturbingly frank look at people and relationships in contemporary Los Angeles and a thrilling dramatic showcase for a brilliant cast." He added, "[The] stories might seem the stuff of soap opera, but Garcia and his superb cast turn most of them into dramatic gold. The peculiar overall structure makes them distinctive as well, the way these little semi-Chekhovian, semi-Andre Dubus pieces play out against each other."[6]

Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it "that rare episode film that actually accrues a cumulative power and doesn't merely proceed from one segment to the next. By the time it's over it has become a testament to the inner resilience of women in coping with a critical moment in their lives ... Each segment seems perfectly shaped and timed, not lasting a second too long yet always of sufficient length to be satisfying in itself. García's large ensemble cast is impeccable, and he and his actors have created a film as memorable as it is subtle ... Nine Lives is a sophisticated, elegant-looking film shot in distinctive, wide-ranging L.A. locales, but its real terrain is the human heart, explored with compassion and respect."[7]

Awards and nominations

The film was also nominated for the William Shatner Golden Groundhog Award for Best Underground Movie.[8]

See also


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