The Nines

Starring Ryan Reynolds (in three different dimensions) as Gary/Gavin/Gabriel, Hope Davis as Sarah/Susan/Sierra and Melissa McCarthy as Margaret/Melissa/Mary.

(warning: plot spoilers ahead)

The Nines is a sermon on metaphysics, or existentialism, I think. You never can be too sure, because maybe reality isn't what you think it is. Maybe you're the one writing this. Maybe you created me out of your imagination so I would write this. Maybe this entire planet is something you created in your spare time just for the fun of it.

The Nines follows the three stages (dimensions?) of Gary/Gavin/Gabriel's self-awakening: (1) He is more than an actor in this movie called "life." (2) He's also more than a writer for the screenplay of this movie called "life." (3) He is the creator of this movie (actually a video game) called "life."

Gary/Gavin/Gabriel is a great man (the creator of the whole world for goodness's sake) but we dare not esteem him higher than 9. The people he creates are all less than 9, which makes sense since he created them and therefore they must be lower than him.

Someone raises the question, "Is there a 10? Is there an Almighty Perfect God?" Good question. If there is an Almighty 10, what can deduce about Him by observing ourselves (assuming this 10 created us to resemble Himself)? He must be creative. Also His Essence must transcend our comprehension since He is on a higher level than us.

The Nines (as well as existentialism in general) admits that we are all imperfect, which would be a good thing if this led us to embrace an appropriately humble view of ourselves before the One who is perfect. But this is not the case. Somehow The Nines (as well as existentialism in general) concludes that, because of our incompleteness, we should focus on ourselves until our self-awakening is complete. According to The Nines, even though we are not God and we can't understand or imagine perfection, we should keep focusing on ourselves until we advance our own development and become perfect little gods ourselves.

The message of the nines is like an arrow whizzing straight for a big billboard with G-O-D painted on it but, just before it slams home it makes a drastic turn to the left, goes around the billboard and then keeps on whizzing into the endless darkness behind the sign.

The temptation here is to think, "Well, I'm not God over the whole universe, but at least I'm god over my own personal world!" But this does not make sense. We can't share a piece of the God-pie. The God-pie is all God's, which makes sense because He is God. If God is God, then He is God over the whole universe including our private little worlds.

It's easy for to admit that we're not perfect. It's slightly more difficult to admit that God exists. It is much more difficult to admit that God is The Boss over everything. It is impossible for us to admit (on our own) that Jesus Christ is The Boss over our every aspect of our private lives.


I keep trying to look up the dictionary definition of "existentialism" but I just can't make it stick. Reason: There is nothing there to remember. There is no substance in existentialism to which might mind might anchor. I will be able to describe existentialism as soon as I can describe the taste of oxygen, or the color of space.

Similar attempts at existentialism include Waking Life (starring Ethan Hawke) and Before Sunrise (also starring Ethan Hawke).


~G. said...

is there more information on the Nines? where can i find it?

patrick said...

i'd recommend typing in "Nines Ryan Reynolds" as a google or IMDB search

Anonymous said...

For heaven's sake, the movie was explicitly philosophical but it had nothing to do with existentialism (which can be described quite plainly.)

The movie is about Theodicy, specifically Leibniz's Theodicy, which it breathes new life into with a wonderfully imaginative turn.

Oddly enough, your arrow analogy can be applied in a significant way--though not the one you intend.

Strangely, Stoicism has in a way become synonymous with philosophy in our culture, at least insofar--and it is actually pretty far--as when people say: "You have to be philosophical about these things," they are of course not referring to philosophy in general but to Stoicism, whether they know it or not.

In a slightly similar way, existentialism has become a term employed when the most one can scrape together philosophically is something like the following.

X is (somehow) philosophical.
I don't get X.
X un-nerves me and I suspect it is bad/wrong but I can't give anything like a clear account.

When certain people who know a bit about philosophy except next to nothing about existentialism, meet up with an "X", there is a very good chance that they will attempt to shop away the discomfort of X by labeling it "existential" in all-but-baldfaced ignorance of what that term clearly denotes.

This charming and thought provoking movie deserves to be addressed with more integrity than we find evidence of in the above blog post.

Anonymous said...

She says that hes an avatar, meaning a god in a human body.( But if he is why doesnt he know and why does everyone else seem to know.) So the plott is basically a god living in his own world so the focus is not on who he is blabla but on how this world is, asuming its the same we live in. At one point he says something like: a world without rules would be boring so we can asume that there are rules in that world and that they play after these rules. now this might sound stupid but i think one rule is that he cant be together with the fat girl since he is a nine even though he actually wants to. When he asks his secretary in part 2 why she did all this, she doesnt give any explanation she had no personal motive,so we can asume she acted on the basic rules of this world. Just saw the movie today so thats all i could think of i think the writer had many different thoughts not just this one...