It’s a far cry from The Ghost Writer let alone Chinatown or Rosemary’s Baby but Polanski’s The Ninth Gate is still a very worthy B-side entry
Once again Polanski, the occult and the devil – eerie hanging opening gets you involved immediately
Tracking shots through Frank Langella (very good here)’s lecture, down the row of books
Like Chinatown an unscrupulous detective (Johnny Depp this time) is hired to solve a mystery sort of by the person who is guilty (Ghost Writer)
There’s also a bit of The Last Crusade here with Langella playing the Julian Glover role—ransacked apartments, a book guiding the way
Scary drawings (like Mia Farrow flipping through the books in Rosemary’s)
Polanski is the king of paranoia (perhaps with Pakula right behind him)—uses the camera to make you feel followed, the woman with the green eyes following Depp on the train, being followed in a cap, pulling off to make a call in the pay phone
More than a few similarities with another 1999- Eyes Wide Shut– cult, gathering at a mansion towards the end could be the same as Eyes Wide Shut
Depp is perfect casting and looks the part- the glasses, the knitted tie, lucky strike cigarettes
Like many films in the genre it makes the mistake of going wildly supernatural (and overdoing it) in the finale. This seems to be the main reason critics torched this one in 1999. The rest of this rare book-obsessed world is so well designed and reserved. Then we get this big otherworldly finale that never comes off. It’s not one of 1999 or Polanski’s finer works– but to cast aside the entire 120 minutes that came before it for the bad last 10 minutes is a mistake as well. There’s a damn good detective film in there and if you’re a student of Polanski– too much not to be impressed by
[…] The Ninth Gate – Polanski […]
Good job as always, Drake. I loved this movie until Emmanuelle Seigner’s character started flying and throwing kung fu kicks. It goes off the rails real quick after that, haha. You think Polanski is done make great films?
@Haider- thank you for the kind words- I’m still trying to get my hands on J’accuse- or The Officer and a Spy (2019)- I do not know if it is like this around the world but nobody seems to be distributing it or making it available here because it is Polanski.