SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased 9 sePteM­ber 15 | 108 min­utes

Di­rec­tor alexan­dre aja Cast Jamie dor­nan, ai­den long­worth, sarah gadon

Much like Pan’s Labyrinth, this adap­ta­tion of a book by Liz Jensen uses fan­tasy as de­cep­tion, mask­ing what is a dark and adult film un­der­neath child­like whimsy.

It fol­lows, of course, Louis Drax (Ai­den Long­worth), a dis­turbed boy whose his­tory of cu­ri­ous mishaps has led to him fall­ing off a cliff dur­ing a fam­ily pic­nic. Or was he pushed? Ei­ther way, he lands in the fan­tas­ti­cal world of a coma, where he makes friends with a sea crea­ture, and at­tempts to take down his doc­tor (Jamie Dor­nan), who’s be­come ro­man­ti­cally in­volved with his mother Natalie (Sarah Gadon). Louis’s fa­ther (Aaron Paul), mean­while, has gone miss­ing.

The mys­tery un­rav­els with the pace of a dream, not only sur­re­ally bleed­ing be­tween the worlds of re­al­ity and coma, but cap­tur­ing adult­hood as seen by a child. This works – mostly – thanks to di­rec­tor Alexan­dre Aja, who has a gift for hyp­notic vi­su­als and imag­i­na­tive sto­ry­telling. But it’s Long­worth’s per­for­mance as Drax that re­ally sells it; he has the sort of cheek and charm that can power through even the most jar­ring of scenes. The 9th Life doesn’t al­ways click, but when it does it’s fas­ci­nat­ing. Stephen Kelly

Film­ing a silent flashback of Louis’s dad shout­ing at his mum, Aaron Paul yelled things like, “You have a nice smile!”

Pa­parazzi Pete stepped on a twig.

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