Winston Duke as Will in Edson Oda’s “Nine Days.”

“You are being considered for the amazing opportunity of life.”

Many film from 2020 made us grieve, or at least had us trying to understand the meaning of loss in our lives. Nine Days, while dealing with the impact of loss, makes you feel fortunate to be alive.

In Nine Days we meet a man named Will (Winston Duke). He walks around house, watching different moments in people’s lives on a wall of televisions, records these moments on a VHS tape, and files them away in a filing cabinet. His friend Kyo (Benedict Wong) tags along and requests to watch a beautiful violin concerto that’s to be played by one of the people on the screens. But when something happens to one of those beings, Will is forced to replace them. He begins the process of choosing which of these candidates, these unborn souls, will have a chance to be born. The process alone, from start to finish, will take nine days. As Will interviews these potential beings, he comes face to face with an eccentric woman named Emma (Zazie Beetz), a candidate for the position. Emma, in her own way, makes Will look into himself, and face his past.

Winston Duke, in my opinion, is still in the fairly early stages of his career. He’s been paired with the likes of Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther, and Lupita Nyong’o in Us. But Nine Days gives him the ability to show his talents by playing the lead actor. His character, Will, is a quiet man – constantly walking around his house doing what looks to be rather mundane work. He’s polite, but we also see his angry side. Will is offset by a woman Emma, played by Zazie Beetz. She’s vocal, confident, basically the opposite of Will. Beetz is great, but her story could have used more attention. The connection between Will and Emma doesn’t feel like much until the end. But nevertheless, it’s interesting.

We’ve heard about “life after death.” The paintings and illustrations that could greet us in the afterlife. One thing that Nine Days does so well is the story. Writer and director, Edson Oda, gives us his interpretation of the beginning before the beginning. The spiritual or cosmic question of how one comes to exist. It’s a refreshing change of pace to those usual films we’ve come to know with explanations of our existence. I’ll leave your own interpretations to yourself. But the deeper and deeper we get into the film’s explanation, the heavier it becomes. The story’s deep seeded desire to be different or compelling, often throws the audience into some rather odd moments. Moments that creates lulls in the film’s narrative.

The score for Nine Days is absolutely breathtaking. Antonio Pinto sets the atmosphere for this mysterious world and, more importantly, the characters in it. All the emotions come through this music. It becomes a character, in and of itself, by amplifying the joys and pains of each character that comes across Will’s path.

Nine Days is a decent look at our beginning, and appreciating the life we have. It does have its short fallings, but the overall film is good and the cast is wonderful in it. As I said at the beginning of the review, if there’s one thing to take away from this, it’s how wonderful it is to be alive!

Nine Days

Written and Directed by: Edson Oda

Starring: Winston Duke, Benedict Wong, Bill Skarsgård, Tony Hale, and Zazie Beetz