We'll never know how Nine Lives snuck past the awards circuit, especially being left out of ensemble notices like SAG's. It is an engrossing collection of nine vignettes, each shot in one take on a Steadicam in a variety of settings, following action into and out of cars, through hospitals and cemetaries, up elevators and into the complex personal traps of a litany of great characters. Each part is a Chekhovian short story with stagy dialogue that works and rings true. The effortless beauty of the camerawork and choreography is matched by the professionalism of the cast.
I mean, look at them: Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman (why don't we see more of her?), Glenn Close (wonderfully subdued), Stephen Dillane (who knew he was so dapper when not playing Leonard Woolf?), Dakota Fanning, Lisa Gay Hamilton (life after "The Practice"?), Holly Hunter, Jason Isaacs, Joe Mantegna, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, Mary Kay Place, Aidan Quinn, William Fichtner, Robin Wright Penn (luminous), Amanda Seyfried (life after Mean Girls?) and Sissy Spacek (cinema's sweetest presence).
Flawless, every one. Nine Lives was produced by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, who proved himself a master of interlocking narratives with 21 Grams and Amores Perros, and was written and directed with great care and feeling by Rodrigo García (son of Gabriel García Márquez). See it. If only for the final segment with Close and Fanning. Its last moments exemplify why we watch movies.