"There's something wrong with the world!" cries Ryan Reynolds in The Nines, a complex, three-part Rubik's Cube of a film set in an existential universe where everything does indeed seem out of whack. Whether it all adds up to more than the sum of its undoubtedly intriguing parts is questionable. Still, there's enough going on in this tale of an actor, writer and videogame designer living weirdly connected lives to keep you hooked, despite its disappointing, damp squib of an ending.
Divided into three half-hour segments, John August's self-scripted drama begins in Disturbia fashion with a Hollywood heartthrob (Reynolds) who starts to query his sanity after being placed under house arrest for a DUI offence. Turns out the house in question belongs to Gavin (Reynolds again), a harrassed scribe seen in Part Two trying to steer his latest TV pilot safely through the shark-infested waters of post-production. Part Three shows the pilot itself, a spooky thriller about a young father (guess who?) stranded in the woods with his wife (Melissa McCarthy), mute daughter (Elle Fanning) and a mysterious stranger (Hope Davis).
With McCarthy and Davis also playing two further roles with suspiciously identical initials, The Nines toys with issues of identity, duality and alternate reality certain to appeal to anyone who's experimented with the virtual avatars of Second Life. The numerological significance of the film's title, however, is just one big red herring, while it's hard not to feel duped by a climactic twist that brings things to a frustratingly ambiguous close.
The Nines is out in the UK on 30th November 2007.