SNever behind his wire-rimmed glasses but more emotionally engaged than he’d like to admit, Will (Winston Duke) bears a great responsibility. During a nine-day screening process, he interviews potential “souls,” all vying for a single opportunity – to be born and embark on a life on Earth. This inventive and audacious debut feature by the Brazilian Japanese writer–director Edson Oda combines a Shyamalan-like elevated concept with a dusty lo-fi aesthetic reminiscent of Being John Malkovich.
Will watches the lives of his selections unfold on VHS tapes and a bank of portable televisions; the color palette is heavy on the green of 1950s municipal filing cabinets. Opposite Will – an individual slightly broken by his own life experience – is Emma (a thrilling Zazie Beetz), an instinctively curious and empathetic soul. With its score of ascending, spiraling strings and a final scene that quotes Walt Whitman song of myself, nine days is, in its hushed way, a profound and powerful commentary on life.