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Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, Fergie

Director: Rob Marshall

Director Marshall's follow-up to Chicago is another musical with much the same virtues. Dynamic dance direction, snappy editing, and swinging (if none too memorable) songs. This one, however, is positively morose in between its musical numbers.

Day-Lewis, with perfect Italian-accented English, is a famous film director in 1965 (the film is based on a Broadway show which itself was modelled on Fellini's movie 8 and a Half), whose private life is in such a mess that he just can't get started on his new film; all that he has is a title.

As he romps with his mistress (a sinuous Cruz) and half-heartedly calls his wife (Cotillard) to join him and give him inspiration, the past and present women in his life perform song-and-dance numbers in his mind.

The film starts well. 'The world,' says Loren (as his mother), 'sees Rome the way you invented it. Your films did that.' But the interludes between songs get increasingly lumpy, and at times even pretentious. The film remains entertaining, however, even if none too coherent.

The musical sequences are punchy and pretty inventive, and none of Marshall's starry performers let him down. All the singing is good, if not perhaps outstanding: Cotillard probably comes closest, and Cruz is certainly the sexiest. Of the songs, only Day-Lewis's second number could be considered a flop. And Loren at 75 is still gloriously, regally, unmistakeably Loren.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Entertainment (The Weinstein Company). Technicolor.
118 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 16 Dec 2009