It's a somewhat silly film, but I find that I quite enjoy it for its gothic subject matter, its rareness as a "book detective" story, and Polanski's seasoned mise-en-scene mastery. I just love watching him work.
Like Eyes Wide Shut; conspiracies leading nowhere. The machinations of the genre used to suggest a character's state of mind; his fears, anxieties. A character on the edge in a world of fiction, in a film obsessed with the nature of fiction. Polanski would remake the conventions of this film with a straight face in The Ghost Writer. Here it's played for laughs, but the result is closer to the alchemy of cinema.
There's a lot to like in bits and pieces and its pretty serviceable thriller, with some pure Polanksi moments. But overall I didn't get the impression the Polanski's heart was really in this one with the exception of some impressive set pieces and the offbeat use of his wife's casting as a demon(?) who knows karate. Other than that I'd have to confirm this a minor film from Polanski. Has redeeming qualities.
Beautifully shot and a great visual tour of Paris and the dark side of Europe. Slow and melodic, Polanski has filled the mystery genre with the devil and let it play out accordingly. Johnny Depp gives his best work here. Superb all around, and the ending isn't abrupt; read deeper. You are given all the tools you need to see the truth.
**1/2. What's Polanski's and what's Arturo Pérez-Reverte's in THE NINTH GATE, that's the question. The mood of the film, yes, the mood of the film ! It's Polanski's all right. Descriptions of frightening or disconcerting characters like the Ceniza brothers maybe ? Maybe, maybe not but enough of that, THE NINTH GATE is not one of the most personal movies of the lecherous dwarf, that's all. So what did I like in this film ? I confess that I always had a weak spot for movies dealing with old books, bookshops or libraries so films like Jean-Jacques Annaud's THE NAME OF THE ROSE or THE NINTH GATE will always meet my leniency. A DVD zone completists only.
Fantastically campy, hilariously fun. This film gets a bum wrap. Like The Ghost Writer you've just got to bring your sly sense of humor into it with you to appreciate it fully. Polanski is a funny, funny filmmaker, but the humor is deep inside the choices he makes and not always very obvious. It's one of the things I love most about his work.