The Libertine

"Very Good"

The Libertine Review


It seems that Johnny Depp, who may be our most consistently dazzling actor, will forever be nominated for his lesser roles. No one of major merit nominated him for Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands, or Ted Demme's Blow but we sure as hell will nominate him for playing a drunk, silly pirate. How does our strongest actor's most gritty, complex role get snuffed? Hell, even his performance in Ed Wood, his best performance, only scored a Golden Globe nomination. Don't expect his latest in Laurence Dunmore's The Libertine to go anywhere past his British Independent Film Awards nod. There's a better chance of his performance as Willy Wonka getting a nomination 'round these parts.

Depp plays John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester, about as depraved and destructive a dissident as there ever was in 17th century England. Besides his duties as an Earl, Wilmot was also a poet, playwright and acting teacher. He married Elizabeth Malet (Rosamund Pike), a woman he tried to kidnap only 2 year prior to marriage, and wrote plays that openly mocked King Charles (a business-as-usual John Malkovich) in his plays and poems, likening him to dildos and limp phalluses. Tell me you wouldn't love to party with this guy. Before he got syphilis and fell apart (literally), he had a short affair with an actress, Elizabeth Barry (the radiant Samantha Morton). Dunmore's film supposes that Wilmot had great emotions for Barry and that her leaving him was what made him die emotionally while syphilis ate away his body.

Johnny Depp has never been this flamboyantly ferocious and fantastic. He takes great glee in stewing in the perversity and abusive distancing of Wilmot, who liked to take a man for a toss in bed every once in awhile. In an off-putting but well delivered opening monologue, Depp takes his time with his glinting English drawl and rolls his tongue with a titillating spark in his eyes. Depp's performance won't get noticed, of course, because the film isn't bankable and John Wilmot is a terrible person for the most part. The only main problem with the film, in fact, is that the script and Dunmore both labor for us to eventually cheer for Wilmot, to like and respect him. Much more rewarding would be to keep him as the depraved debaucher he was, make the audience deal with someone they truly dislike, and cut out that grand end scene where he pontificates to the magistrates.

What is even more interesting and profound is Dunmore, a first timer who shows deep wells of promise and style. Lit darkly and with a dirty, foggy feel by newcomer Alexander Melman, who also shows amazing talent, the film feels like remembering a nightmare. Dunmore knows exactly what he's doing with the material and brings Wilmot's world into grimy relief. Most impressive is the way that Depp's performance never outshines the material. Where many debuting directors have a great actor surrounded by a flimsy story (Pierce Brosnan in The Matador, Felicity Huffman in Transamerica), Dunmore's film covers Depp in lush details and landscapes. And although the film shows the faults of a first timer (the pacing is a tad bumpy, the relationship between King Charles and Wilmot isn't very well defined), there is no debating that this is a substantial first outing.



The Libertine

Facts and Figures

Run time: 114 mins

In Theaters: Friday 10th March 2006

Box Office USA: $4.8M

Distributed by: Weinstein Company

Production compaines: First Choice Films, Isle of Man Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Fresh: 40 Rotten: 82

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Laurence Dunmore

Starring: as Rochester, Paul Ritter as Chiffinch, as Charles II, Stanley Townsend as Keown, as Countess, as Elizabeth Malet, as Etherege, as Sackville, as Alcock, as Vaughan, Hugh Sachs as Ratcliffe, as Downs, as Jane, as Harris, Trudi Jackson as Rose

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.