"Sadly, my gun wasn't loaded. I ended up stabbing myself with a pen."
Roman Polanksi ran away from the USA to avoid being chucked I the clink for schtupping a fifteen year old girl. And any of you who bother to pay good money to see this film know just how the fifteen year old felt. You'll walk bow-legged, have trouble sitting comfortably and you'll wonder why something that's supposed to be an enjoyable pursuit caused so much pain. The Ninth Gate can only be Roman Polanski's final 'up yours' to America. It's just that bad.But it starts alright. Johnny Depp, who we've been allowed to like without risk of social stigma since Platoon, plays Dean Corso, a book expert who locates and acquires rarities for rich book-anoraks. He's hired by the 'obviously evil just by the sound of his name' Boris Balkan, who charges Corso to seek out the legendary satanic manual, The Nine Gates Of the Kingdon Of Shadows. As he travels from country to country, Corso makes a few discoveries about the work he seeks, encounters a few weirdos, and manages to avoid dying at the hands of what looks like an evil hairdresser when he's saved by a kung-fu kicking Hal Hartley character on a motorbike. Which happens to me all the time.
Yes, it starts okay but then drags into a cludgy mess of weirdness and pseudo-spookiness that not even Depp can manage to keep pumping along. By the halfway point Depp all but looks to the camera and mouths the words 'help me', he's just that lost. Bad guy Frank Langella and creepy angel-or-is-she Lena Olin fare no better as they wander through a litany of awful lines and arty fuckery. The silliness picks up speed towards the last act when a meeting of satanists that makes the orgy in Eyes Wide Shut seem realistic, has you wondering if this is all supposed to be funny or not. The bad guys are right out of Hudson Hawk, the dialogue the stuff of television non-ratings pilots and the ending… there's no other way to describe it but crap. You shall shake your head in wonder. Then you shall ask for your money back.It's clear that Roman Polanski is a dried up old whore; sold out, short of new tricks, of no worth to anyone but the desperate. France can keep him.