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The Libertine (2004)

R  |   |  Drama  |  10 March 2006 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 30,768 users   Metascore: 44/100
Reviews: 259 user | 111 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

The story of John Wilmot, a.k.a. the Earl of Rochester, a 17th century poet who famously drank and debauched his way to an early grave, only to earn posthumous critical acclaim for his life's work.



(screenplay), (play)
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2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hugh Sachs ...


In 1660, with the return of Charles II to the English throne, theater, the visual arts, science and sexual promiscuity flourish. Thirteen years later, in the midst of political and economical problems, Charles II asks for the return of his friend John Wilmot, aka the second Earl of Rochester, from exile back to London. John is a morally-corrupt drunkard and a sexually- active cynical poet. When the King asks John to prepare a play for the French ambassador so as to please him, John meets the aspiring actress Elizabeth Barry in the playhouse and decides to make her into a great star. He falls in love with her and she becomes his mistress. During the presentation to the Frenchman, he falls into disgrace with the court. When he was thirty-three years old and dying of syphilis and alcoholism, he converts to being a religious man. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He didn't resist temptation. He pursued it.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality including dialogue, violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

10 March 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El libertino  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£278,482 (UK) (18 November 2005)


$146,241 (Brazil) (14 July 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Unlike most period films, this one was shot almost entirely with a hand-held camera. The two most notable shots with a fixed camera (not a hand held one) are the two panoramas of the interior of the theater, which was intentional. See more »


Looks closely at the back of the person being prodded and whipped around 1:17:10 (in Dr. Bendo's room shortly after Alcock pees into a vial), you can faintly see quite a large tattoo in the small of the lady's back that hasn't completely been covered by the make-up. See more »


[first lines]
Rochester: Allow me to be frank at the commencement. You will not like me. The gentlemen will be envious and the ladies will be repelled. You will not like me now and you will like me a good deal less as we go on. Ladies, an announcement: I am up for it, all the time. That is not a boast or an opinion, it is bone hard medical fact. I put it round you know. And you will watch me putting it round and sigh for it. Don't. It is a deal of trouble for you and you are better off watching and drawing...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Special thanks to Tracy, Billy and Stanley and all our Friends and Families See more »


Referenced in Capturing 'The Libertine' (2006) See more »


Rochester's Farewell
(end title theme)
Music by Michael Nyman
Text by Stephen Jeffreys
Performed by Hilary Summers (contralto)
See more »

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User Reviews

Powerful, repulsive, compelling, magnificent
21 September 2004 | by See all my reviews

This wasn't a glamorized period costume drama that Hollywood loves to overdo and it wasn't NC-17 for nothing! There was some technical roughness and lack of continuity but they were minor quibbles in what I considered a triumph. The mood, the sets and cinematography, the script and, most of all, the acting were all of the highest and most innovative caliber. Depp was in almost every scene and was fascinating beyond anything I'd ever experienced. His force and range of emotion and naturalness were exceptionally powerful and moving from first to last. You hated him and loved him, were repulsed by him and felt pity for him. You were drawn to him almost against your will, like a vortex pulling you in. All else paled in comparison. This was a Johnny Depp that I'd never seen before but so hope I have a chance to again. This performance is the crowning glory to date of his illustrious career and I see no limits to what he can accomplish in the future. Everyone else was uniformly excellent although Samantha Morton didn't portray the allure the Elizabeth Barry in the play had.

My primary recommendation for improving this work in progress before theatrical release center around clarifying motivations up front for why these people were the way they were. This could be done by a combination of edits and additions. I found I liked it even better and was more moved by it the second time I saw it when I wasn't concentrating as much on following the storyline.

This was a movie I loved and can't get it out of my mind. It was stunning and compelling beyond anything I've seen in a very long while.

183 of 219 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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