Rodrigo Garcia enjoys relating short stories of women of varying ages in crisis. In Nine Lives he works effectively in compact vignettes using one camera take that definitely has appeal for those regular watchers of the Lifetime television network. The L.A. settings allow for lives to be examined with hardly any closure.
The director uses sentiment well within the characters' happenstance and personal relationships, even if the whole doesn't exceed the sum of its unfeigned parts. He has nine women touched by emotions like anxiety, fear, and love. The viewer is like a silent eavesdropper in a movie that has a rich, talented female cast, including Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Robin Wright Penn, and the much-in-demand Dakota Fanning.
One of the best segments includes the one with Penn. Her pregnant character goes through much in a grocery store scene with a former lover (Jason Isaacs). The expression by a woman played by Holly Hunter says much as a lover details their intimacy to friends. Amanda Seyfriend is a young woman weighed down by her handicapped father and needful mom. Sissy Spacek (North Country) yearns for a man as she is on the verge of threatening her marriage. And the pain of a woman about to undergo a masectomy (Kathy Baker) puts the squeeze on her suffering husband (Joe Mantegna).
Nine Lives can be a little frustrating as one would like to know these women more as the interludes swell, yet there is a strong commitment of the actresses to make Garcia's vision authentic and truthful. It's a collection that doesn't neglect the men, even Stephen Dillane (Greatest Game Ever Played). Though it has a fragmentary, fleeting quality, its female sensibility rarely wanes with all of the notions of sorrow and loss.