Stories / April 2019

Celluloid Style: Nine And A Half Weeks

Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger’s last tango in Manhattan provides endless moments of cinematic style, as Chris Modoo discovers…

Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger in Nine 1/2 weeks (Photo courtesy of Alamy).

“Every time I see you, you're buying chickens”…probably not the most romantic chat-up line, but it works for John Gray: the sybaritic arbitrageur, played by a slim and handsome Mickey Rourke in Adrian Lyne’s stylish alternative love story set in 1980s New York. The object of Rourke’s attention is a beautiful divorcee art gallery assistant, Elizabeth Mcgraw, played by Kim Basinger.

Any film with themes of sexual domination, sadism and amaurophilia are likely to be controversial and after delays in post-production and editing,  it was a commercial failure in US theatres. But in Europe it was a cult success and helped cement Rourke’s reputation as the post-modern Marlon Brando.

Filmed entirely on location and shot sequentially, British director Lyne with cinematographer, Peter Biziou, capture New York in all its gritty mixed-up charm. From John and Elizabeth’s first date enjoying linguini con cozze in a family restaurant in Little Italy to shopping for groceries in Chinatown, every shot is beautifully lit with incredible detail. The scene in Coney Island on a rainy day with Basinger carrying a bunch of coloured balloons against a grey background is a particular favourite - it is so elegantly crafted that you can tell that the colour of each balloon was painstakingly chosen for maximum effect.

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