film 5 of 6

Nine Variations on a Dance Theme

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 8, 2015

Very interesting. This is partly a technical challenge, a justifiable but not especially communicative exercise in Steve Reich-ian repetition and slight, incremental variation. But the presence of this woman, of her face and especially her almost obsessively rendered body, makes Nine Variations way more than just an formalist exercise. It might cross your mind to wonder. Is it, in fact, and exercise in objectification? Not clearly or absolutely, such that the answer to that question is going to depend on the mind and perceptions of the beholder. This was almost certainly not the intent of the film. For instance, see how some of the later variations, rendered in extreme close up, quite compellingly abstract or fragment—cut up—this body. Hmm. Still sounds like objectification, doesn’t it?

That possibility is somewhat mitigated or neutralized by the fact that though Nine Variations is more than just a formalist exercise, it is still more than anything a formalist exercise. To put it bluntly, though some might be tempted to ogle, the film is too dry for their ogling to provide much pleasure. For non-oglers? This deserves close attention and explicative analysis. Without your pen and pad, though, it does get away from you somewhat.