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Johnny Depp wows Venice Film Festival in "Black Mass"

It's Johnny Depp's day at the Venice Film Festival. Judging by early reaction to his performance in gangster drama "Black Mass," it may turn out to be Johnny Depp's year.

A pallid, blonde and balding Depp is virtually unrecognizable as real-life Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, who built up a criminal empire while acting as a longtime FBI informant - or "professional criminal consultant," as one character puts it.

The Hollywood Reporter hailed it as one of Depp's best performances, calling him "charismatic ... fully convincing and frightening." Variety said the "mesmerizing" turn was "a bracing return to form" after several underwhelming films.

Dozens of fans camped out beside Venice's cinema Palais Friday, hours before Depp was due on the red carpet for the world premiere of Scott Cooper's film.

Directed by Scott Cooper, the film also boasts an A-list cast that also includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons, Peter Sarsgaard, Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, Joel Edgerton and Corey Stoll. It arrives in theaters Sept. 18.