by Tim Birkbeck
There aren’t many occasions when you come away from something thinking “that was strange, but in the best way possible”. That is the exact feeling I got from watching Jane Spencer’s The Ninth Cloud. A film which embraces the unusual and gives the perception that an artist can do anything they put their mind to as long as they are passionate enough about it.
The story is told from the perspective of dreamer Zena (Megan Maczko) who clings onto her idealistic views of philosophy, art, poetry and love as she makes her life in 1990s London. Trying to make sense of life, death, love and existence; she meets Michael Madsen’s troubled poet Bob, a man shrouded in enigmas, who’s keen to stage a play on the street using homeless people and local vagrants as actors. Convinced that Bob is this wonderful visionary of a man, Zena dedicates herself – to obsessive proportions – to helping him fulfil his quest.
What draws the viewer into this film is the 90s aesthetic and the odd rhythm of Spencer’s comedic timing is so off-beat it seems to sit with such ease. The first act of the film is all about establishing the key characters, from Zena and Bob to Jonny (Jean-Hugues Anglade) and Billy (David Birkin), but once this is established it is the push and pull of love, money and riches which sets off a ride your weren’t expecting to go on.
Spencer doesn’t want to spell everything out for her audience. She is tackling philosophy, the meaning of life – how could she possibly give us all the answers? Instead, these leaden characters are there to provide a small glimpse into everything and anything in order for the audience to draw their own conclusions about them. At its heart The Ninth Cloud is darkly funny and artsy, but its ultimate goal is a reminder to all that the world can be viewed in all manner of ways.
Dir: Jane Spencer
Scr: Jane Spencer, Lucy Shuttlesworth
Starring: Megan Maczko, Michael Madsen, Sabina Akhmedova, Jean-Hughes Anglade
Prd: Elena Baranova, Christo Dimassis, Marc Holthuizen, Richard Hudson, Gia Muresan, Kimberley Robson, Bruno Rosato, Wendy Thomas, Julia Verdin
DOP: Justin Brown
Music: Raz Olsher, Marcel Vaid
Runtime: 93 mins
The Ninth Cloud is available on digital now.