‘Nine Days’ is one of the greatest debut films of all time

Despite being his directorial and writing debut, Edson Oda already has the skills of a master filmmaker.

“Nine Days” might be one of the hardest movies to see in America right now. It’s playing in exactly 21 theaters across America, is unavailable for rent anywhere and there are currently no reports of it that it will join a streaming service. Despite this, you must see this movie, as soon as you get the chance, because this movie is special. What Edson Oda has achieved with his first-ever feature film is unprecedented. This movie may only be playing in 21 theaters right now, but before long it will be well known and highly acclaimed by audiences everywhere.

The premise for “Nine Days” is fantastically unique. Will, played brilliantly by Winston Duke, lives in a liminal space, with his assistant Kyo, played by Benedict Wong, as his only company. The only job in this void is to watch over people in the real world, viewing their lives through TVs that broadcast each person’s perspective. Will has 28 people to watch over, and he takes great earnestness in his job, making meticulous notes of their lives, detailing who they are as a person and what makes them tick. 

What Edson Oda has achieved with his first-ever feature film is unprecedented.”

This routine of Will’s is disrupted when his favorite person, Amanda, dies suddenly in a car crash. This is where Will’s relationship with all the people is revealed; he selected them to be born. In order to replace Amanda, Will begins interviewing various souls, and at the end of a nine-day process, he will choose one who gets the privilege of being born, and the rest will, in a vague sort of sense, cease to exist. 

The reason Will has the responsibility of selecting and watching over people is that he was once alive himself. Throughout the film we see Will come into conflict with Kyo and the various candidates, becoming angered at the assumptions they make about what real life is like. These outbursts end up being extremely revealing to the nature of Will’s character. An outer shell of professionalism merely gleaming over a deeply emotional, loving core. 

Each character is so filled with emotion, desire and opinion that they feel alive”

The various candidates, the inquisitive Maria (Arianna Ortiz), the emotional Mike (David Rysdahl), the witty Alexander (Tony Hale), the stoic Kane (Bill Skarsgard) and the insightful Emma (Zazie Beetz), all are played masterfully by their corresponding actors, and all develop into more and more complex characters over the nine days, building off their original traits. The character of Emma and Kane are particularly impactful to Will, as Emma is a pure optimist, whereas Kane views the world as inherently dangerous and evil. Will, being so deeply affected by the unexplainable loss of Amanda, agrees with Kane’s assessment of a dangerous world. And yet Emma manages to routinely challenge this perspective, asking Will about his own life and why he cares so deeply about those he is tasked with overseeing. 

What makes this otherwise great film stand out as something extraordinary, are the characters. Oda’s writing manages to craft each character in a way that allows the audience to grow a personal fondness for every single one. Each character is so filled with emotion, desire and opinion that they feel alive, and throughout the film you want them to be alive, you hope that they get to experience life for all of the messy inexplainable beauty that it is.

And this, this is precisely why the heartaches so tenderly for Will in particular. It is clear from the film that he has led a life of pain and sorrow. He winces whenever reflecting back upon his life, with the fantastic score being used to create some of the most heart-crushing scenes of the film. Yet in spite of all this sadness and suffering, Will shows such deep affection and love for all of the souls who drift through his plane of reality, giving all he can to each and every one of them. Through his connections with the other characters, the emotion and purposefulness of real life are still attainable.

It’s unsurprising that with as many times as this film punches right in the heart, by the end it leaves you feeling truly tender inside.”

The ending of the “Nine Days” is the culmination of everything that comes prior. The scene is one of the best from any film in recent memory and features the best camerawork of the movie. It’s unsurprising that with as many times as this film punches right in the heart, by the end it leaves you feeling truly tender inside.

“Nine Days” is packed to the brim with emotion. The environment Oda has created in this film seemingly contains every emotion imaginable, mixing them together to create an aura that overwhelms, even upon reflection days later. In fact, it’s astonishing how much was packed into this film, commentary on the nature of life, the soul, what it means to be alive, what gives life meaning, why we have relationships, all while still managing to be perfect in a technical sense, with excellent cinematography and editing. Even if Oda never blesses the world with another film again, he has left his mark with “Nine Days”, and deserves recognition for accomplishing so much in his first film. It’s incredibly rare that someone is able to create a piece of art so life-affirming, so whenever it eventually becomes possible, please see this movie.