The Ninth Gate movie full length review - A film about books has never been so interesting...
Regrettably, I never saw this film at the theatre. I wish I had, though, as it is just my type of movie. I first saw it on TV, and after taping it and watching it numerous times, I realised this was a film that I simply HAD to buy on DVD.
And so I did. I've watched it a few times since then, and it's still as good as the first time I watched it (if not better), which is why I regret not getting to see it at the cinema.
So...what makes this film so great? Well, to put it bluntly...EVERYTHING. The story, the way it's told, the way the film looks, the characters and the actors, the MUSIC - it all combines to make what I think is a superb (yet sadly underrated) film. Okay, so it may not be for everyone. It's not mindless action, for one thing. It actually requires some *thought* and some may perceive it as "slow and boring", but for those who like a good psychological thriller filled with mystery, intrigue and supernatural elements, then this is the film for you.
Johnny Depp adds yet another fine performance to his already extensive resumé. Dean Corso is a character who, in the hands of a lesser actor, may have come across as someone quite unlikeable. In fact, at the start of the film, Corso isn't a particularly likable guy. But Depp wastes no time in making you grow to like him, and pretty soon you're on his side, as he goes on this rather bizarre assignment of his. And what a journey it is, filled with an assortment of weird and wonderful characters - all brought to life by actors with varying degrees of experience (but all of whom give equally solid performances).
Frank Langella as Boris Balkan is an ever-looming presence in the film. Although he doesn't share that many scenes with Depp (and is mostly just heard over the phone), Balkan's voice is more than enough to remind Corso of what he's gotten himself into. He's a scary guy, and Langella does scary more than adequately. Then there's Lena Olin. What can you say about her? She's - quite simply - awesome. She's sultry, sexy and deliciously evil. As Liana Telfer, Lena Olin gets to play low-key menacing, only to switch to over-the-top chest-biting/face-scratching psycho woman on a dime.
Then there are other characters that Corso encounters, like the twin Ceniza brothers, Victor Fargas and Baroness Kessler (and her scary secretary), not to mention Telfer's ridiculously-haired bodyguard. All these characters have their quirks and every one of them makes for an interesting encounter with Corso. However, the best - hands down - has got to be The Girl (nicknamed "Green Eyes" by Corso), played to perfection by the mesmerising Emmanuelle Seigner. I had never seen her, nor heard of her prior to this film. I can safely say that I have been missing out in the BIGGEST way. What a find she is. Emmanuelle is everything this quite essential character needs to be: she's alluring, she's mysterious, she's wicked and most importantly, you can understand why Corso would be drawn to her. In her mismatching socks, dirty sneakers and baggy anorak, she is the most unassuming person Corso could meet...but there's this underlying sense of malice. With her otherworldly features (most notably, her brilliant green eyes - which cannot be anything but supernatural in nature, given the way they flare up occasionally), not to mention the way she seems to - on occasion - FLOAT, you can tell that she's bewitching Corso (in a sense) and aiding him on his journey towards what he seeks.
All of their scenes together are great (and yet, she's not overused in the film. She only appears at key moments and her interaction with Corso is all the more effective *because* of the rather limited amount of scenes they share). It all culminates in a rather steamy scene outside an appropriately flaming castle. This scene is most memorable, due to the excellent use of effects. They're so subtle, and yet incredibly effective. Just watch her face (and yes, I realise that's probably not the thing your eyes would be immediately drawn to in the scene), keep an eye out for the blink-and-you'll-miss-it changes and how eerily effective they are. It's one of the creepier moments in the film (and quite possibly my favourite moment of all). The music also helps make the scene unforgettable.
This movie is filled with great moments, though. It's all exquisitely shot, the music is perfect throughout, and it's evident how much precision and care has been put into the film (even the beginning and end credits are memorable/unsettling). And the moral of the story? Beware the blonde with the excessively hairy eyebrows. Don't have sex with the devil in disguise in front of a burning castle.