Hailing from first-time director Edson Oda, the imaginative sci-fi drama Nine Days bowed at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year where it earned no shortage of comparisons to the work of Spike Jonze. Picked up by Sony Classics, the project now has Jonze on board as an executive producer, and the first trailer has landed ahead of an early 2021 release. Led by Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Benedict Wong, Bill Skårsgard, Tony Hale, David Rysdahl, and Arianna Ortiz, the film imagines a world in which a higher power must decide between a selection of candidates to pick a single soul to be born into the world.

I said in my review, “The existential quandaries of death and what may happen after our final breath is the subject of countless films, including a stand-out here at Sundance. But what if it’s not the endgame we should be worried about, but rather how we were born in the first place? No, Nine Days is not about the act of conception and pregnancy. This sci-fi film, from first-time director Edson Oda, rather imagines a process before that, in which a higher power must decide between a selection of candidates to pick a single soul to be born. In what is the highest-stakes competition known to humanity, the rest have just nine days to “live” in this in-between world before they disappear into the ether, never to return again. Riffing on Hirokazu Kore-eda’s masterful After Life in a reverse sort of way as well as Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry (if they were totally somber), Nine Days will have one’s mind provoked, but the one-note, obstinately lugubrious tone makes the experience more exhausting than edifying. “

See the trailer and poster below.

Will (Winston Duke) spends his days in a remote outpost watching the live Point of View (POV) on TV’s of people going about their lives, until one subject perishes, leaving a vacancy for a new life on earth. Soon, several candidates — unborn souls — arrive at Will’s to undergo tests determining their fitness, facing oblivion when they are deemed unsuitable. But Will soon faces his own existential challenge in the form of free-spirited Emma (Zazie Beetz), a candidate who is not like the others, forcing him to turn within and reckon with his own tumultuous past. Fueled by unexpected power, he discovers a bold new path forward in his own life. Making his feature-film debut after a series of highly acclaimed and award-winning short films and music videos, Japanese Brazilian director Edson Oda delivers a heartfelt and meditative vision of human souls in limbo, aching to be born against unimaginable odds, yet hindered by forces beyond their will…

Nine Days opens in early 2021.

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