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It is easy to imagine that the villain's attitude is reflective of Polanski's toward the project itself. "Here I am," the villain seems to be saying, "a brilliant man, lowered to hobnobbing with superstitious inferiors. What has the world come to?"
Likewise, Polanski seems disengaged from The Ninth Gate, as though offended that this pseudo-profound spook story is the best material he can wrangle while in exile from Hollywood. (The scuttling of The Double, his Dostoyevsky project with John Travolta, certainly didn't help.) There are moments when The Ninth Gate shows the director's unique comic sense of creepiness: A scene with twin bookbinders -- both played by Jose Lopez Rodero, who is cleverly composited into one frame -- has the same droll, offbeat eeriness that informs much of Cul de Sac and The Tenant.
But such moments are too few and far between. Despite a game attempt by Depp and excellent support from Seigner, Olin, and Langella, The Ninth Gate has a tired, offhand feel to it.
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