Movie Review 2007 #155: The Ninth Gate

One of those rare Johnny Depp movies with no Tim Burton in sight, The Ninth Gate also has Lena Olin and Frank Langella, and is directed by Roman Polanski.

Somewhat failing in execution, the Ninth Gate lets down its intriguing premise and protagonist with a lackluster performance and execution.
Depp plays Caruso, a rare book dealer/finder/investigator. He authenticates rare books for a living, and is drawn into a web of intrigue surrouding Langella’s Boris Balkan, who has recently come into possession of a book said to be co-authored by Lucifer. Balkan is not sure he has the “right” copy and hires Caruso, with the promise of a fat fee, to investigate the other two copies. Olin plays Liana Telfer, recent widow of the man who sold Balkan his copy, and may want the book back at any cost…
With lots of intrigue and investigation and a bibliophile feel, I had high hopes for the movie. Unfortunately, Depp’s performance is flat, uninteresting and unengaging. With such a protagonist, its difficult to like the movie. Worse, (and I am trying not to spoil the ending), the ending is a complete cop out, a fade to white before we get to see the fruits of Caruso’s efforts. While it might be argued that it could be left to the imagination, after a long build up, a pay off is indeed necessary and expected. And without one, an already flat movie simply fizzles.