Navel-Gazing in la la Land; Switching Roles: Ryan Reynolds Finds His Belly-Button Has Gone Missing

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Byline: CHARLOTTE O'SULLIVAN

The Nines Cert 15, 99 mins

****

THIS freaky, astutely riddlesome LA drama has been compared to David Lynch'sMulholland Drive.

Its deliberately obtuse plot and meta-fictional bent also owes something toDavid Cronenberg's eXistenZ, Spike Jonze's Adaptation and that most sublime ofnightmares, TV's The Larry Sanders Show. Whatever else, director-writer JohnAugust has great taste if he steals, he steals from the best.

The story starts on a hot summer day, with a cute, successful TV actor Gary(Ryan Reynolds) accidentally burning his house down. After taking crack with awhore, he discovers his bellybutton is missing. Does this mean he is God? Orthat is he going ga-ga? He gets placed under house arrest by his giggly,peculiar new PR (Melissa McCarthy), has a fling with a neighbour (Hope Davis),sees the number nine everywhere and gets freaked out by a deaf girl in a busshelter.

Then it's all change, as we meet Gavin, a feted, gay TV writer (Reynoldsagain), about to make a pilot for a drama series called Knowing, which featuresa deaf girl and an actress (McCarthy again) who's not at all to the liking ofone of the network chiefs (Davis again). A reality TV show is following thepilot's progress.

It's Gavin, however, who's in for a reality check.

A third segment sees the central actors switch roles again, as we enter TheNines Cert 1. …