"realistically unnerving"

In the opening moments an actor (Ryan Reynolds) drinks, drives, scores some crack, hangs out with a hooker, and totals his car. This series of events reverberates through the film, not so much in its literal consequences, the story is told through three overlapping segments. Barely a moment goes by when someone onscreen isn't feeling confused or ill at ease and it was a similar feeling in the audience.

The film has high metaphysical ideas and will muddle the sure-handed unveiling of hints, details, and connecting threads. JohnAugust avoids a single act of rug-pulling in favor of a "solution" that offers answers and new questions in tandem. It's like watching three interlocking Twilight Zone episodes, and at his best John August conjures the mood of that show. The Nines is realistically unnerving. The casting is impressive, you will fall in love with Melissa McCarthy and the film gives the consistently underrated Ryan Reynolds three chances to prove that he's got so much more under the hood than frat-boy and hunky action-guy posturing.

John August, whose resume is unequally divided between tricky, offbeat films like GO (1999) and BIG FISH (2003) and bloated, mainstream junk in the CHARLIE'S ANGELS mold, gets tangled up in his own ambitious, meta-mystical noodling, but at least he has ambitions. The payoff fizzles, but the buildup is intriguing until it unfortunately topples under its own weight.