AFI FEST 2020 REVIEW! If I may be so bold! Great science-fiction storytelling is not going to come from the big studios anymore. We will find it from new filmmakers with big ideas and very little money. But thankfully, big ideas attract big talent (then hopefully big money), and that’s what we have with Edson Oda’s Nine Days.
It all starts with a “what if.” What if our souls—before we are born—had to apply for the privilege of living, like in a job interview? Winston Duke plays Will, the interviewer/recruiter, and his “office” is a rather large, unassuming home located in the middle of the desert.
“…new candidates arrive at his doorstep and have nine days to prove to Will that they are worthy.”
Will was once born, and it is his experience and insight that make him perfect for the role. Each day, he watches television screens showing live POV feeds of those he qualified to live and follows their progress out of deep satisfaction with his work. He also tapes their lives for research and archival purposes as we will see.
When a position opens, new candidates arrive at his doorstep and have nine days to prove to Will that they are worthy. Helping Will run the “office” is Kyo (Benedict Wong), who’s never been born…so what does he know…right? The new batch of arrivals includes Kane (Bill Skarsgård), Anne (Perry Smith), Maria (Arianna Ortiz), Alexander (Tony Hale), Mike (David Rysdahl), and Emma (Zazie Beetz).
Qualifying is not easy. It essentially consists of answering intense roleplay exercises of “what would you do” when presented with life and death scenarios. One example is a Nazi SS forcing you to kill your child…what would you do? Everyone answers in different, expected ways…except Emma, who confounds Will with her inability/refusal to answer the questions.
"…answering intense roleplay exercises of 'what would you do' when presented with life and death scenarios."