The Ninth Gate: Early Johnny Depp Gold
In 1999 Johnny Depp starred in a supernatural/occult film by Roman Polanski, The Ninth Gate. This film is everything that is right, or should be right, about suspenseful thrillers, without any of the cheap cop outs, like excessive gore or special effects. This is an excellent movie, extremely well paced, with just the right actors and actresses for each character role in the film.
Johnny Depp plays the part of Dean Corso, and infamous rare books dealer who is known for swindling people who don't know better. He is all about the money, and specializes in swooping in after a death or a stroke, and buying extremely expensive books for far less then they're actually worth, while making it a living hell for anyone following him to do the same. The opening scene shows a father in a wheel chair, his nearly paralyzed hand gripping the blanket covering his lap in rage while Corso takes the original four part "Don Quixote" for only $4,000 total (to give you an idea, the 2nd English edition (a two parter) is worth $15,000 a book).
Dean Corso is an interesting character, as he is certainly the film's "hero," but at no time does he appear like a good man. There is never even a turning point where he seems to "learn his lesson" and turn around. That cliché is avoided completely. Corso is hired by Boris Balkan, who has a book that is supposed to hide the secret of "The Ninth Gate," which is a riddle that if solved allows the person to conjure up Lucifer himself, and claim immortality and unbelievable power.
As Corso gets further into his work he is attacked repeatedly, stalked by an assailant, sees people being murdered left and right, including one of his few "friends," and is being constantly accompanied by a mysterious woman who has powers that make it abundantly clear she is not human. While acting in the role of a guardian angel to Corso, the end reveals her to be anything but.
This film is one that every film student should watch. The pacing is exceptional, the camera work well done, and each actor fills their role perfectly. Johnny Depp plays an exceptional character, and Corso, while never the good guy, remains liked because he is constantly the least evil of all of them, even at the end when he makes a decision that will change his life forever.
This film is a great watch that should be viewed by anyone who hasn't seen it. This film has Johnny Depp and Roman Polanski at their very best.