The Libertine (2004) Poster

(2004)

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jcd2girl21 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I had the fortunate pleasure of viewing The Libertine in Toronto on Saturday 9/18/04 and wanted to share my thoughts and feelings. Before doing so, in reply to those who have seen it and have made comments on things such as the sound, camera work, lighting, etc., it should be reminded that this film was shone at the festival in the "Special Presentations" category and was listed as "a work in progress." The filmmakers were hustling to get the film edited as much as they could before the first showing, in hopes of finding a distributor. That said, minor details such as those mentioned need to be taken with a grain of salt. If released theatrically, or to DVD alone, it will be further "cleaned up" and edited. But I digress, because that wasn't what I was paying attention to while watching this movie. I go to see a movie for the story, the characters, and/or the actors; not the lighting, sound or costumes. Now, on to my review: In a nutshell, this movie was fantastic and the performance of Johnny Depp was nothing short of brilliant.

I was captivated from the moment Depp begins his monologue as the Earl of Rochester to assure the audience that "You will not like me," to the very end of his epilogue where he asks "How do you like me now?" Depp impeccably captured the essence of a man who despised life, drank profusely, seduced women, condescended everyone from the King to his mother to his servant, and preferred to have his portrait done with a monkey rather than his wife. Hmmm, not too much to like, right? On the contrary. Mixed with his utter disrespect for life was his charm, his wit, his irresistibility, and his desire to do whatever he pleased. As such, I had conflicting feelings of hatred, pity, love and admiration for Rochester. This was due, entirely, to Depp's performance. As Rochester's fatal disease begins to take it's toll, Depp transforms into a creature almost too unbearable to look at. You will weep and shudder at the same time. It is without doubt Depp's best work to date and I'm convinced that no other actor could have portrayed him as brilliantly as Johnny. John Malkovich as Charles II, and Samantha Morton as Rochester's mistress are wonderful as well, and contribute nicely to a movie mixed with humor, sex, tragedy, and darkness. All said, it was a movie I would highly recommend and would love desperately to see again.
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10/10
A personal synopsis of the Libertine
BraveBabe23 September 2004
The Libertine was a brilliant period piece. It was a tragically realistic yet witty and humorous look at the Restoration period in England, but more specifically depicted the latter stages of the life of the Second Earl Of Rochester, a poet, who endured a short and debauched life. Here was a man so highly intelligent, yet so bored with life that he thrived by consistently pushing his limits and the boundaries of his relationships.

Johnny Depp eloquently and emotionally portrayed the Earl of Wilmot. This has to be by far his most brilliant achievement in a long line of unique and amazing performances. Mr. Depp's portrayal of the Earl showed a range of emotions, incredible nuances and a depth of empathy never before seen on screen, best illustrated during the scene where The Earl addresses parliament - which has to be the most gut wrenching scene, rife with fervor but with credibility. Suffice it to say by the end of this movie I had been reduced to tears and cheers, both at times coinciding. This is definitely an Oscar worthy performance. The golden statue is a must.

The supporting cast was also excellent; most notably, the actor who played the Earl's servant, and who appeared to have a great rapport with Mr. Depp, on screen. Samantha Morton, also superb as Mrs. Barry, gave a lovely and unobtrusive performance as was required for this character.

Laurence Dunmore captured the atmosphere of the period exquisitely with simplicity yet with a keen eye to detail. The reproduction of the 'family' Portrait of the Earl with the monkey is an excellent example. The lighting, the sets, the costumes all added to the reality of the movie. The musical score by Michael Nyman beautifully augmented the spirit of the times and of this production.

The Libertine was a work in progress when I viewed it twice at the Toronto Film Fest. I cannot imagine a scene being cut; even the more risqué dreams are required to impart the true emotional state of the Earl at that time in his life. Before passing judgment on this film I suggest that one see it at least twice so as to appreciate the full impact of the movie – to fully identify with the meaning and the thought behind this production.

The Libertine is a wonderful piece of art, representing the true raison d'être of this poet with incredible wit and insight. Congratulations to all who graced the production of the Libertine.
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10/10
Powerful, repulsive, compelling, magnificent
filmbuff221 September 2004
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.
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8/10
Dark melodrama with unexpected depth
Chris_Docker21 November 2005
What images are conjured up by the title! Especially when we know in advance the lead is to be played by the handsome Johnny Depp. Perhaps a likable rake, a dissolute, even fashionable but very colourful icon of male supremacy - to be forgiven by female fans if they can watch from the safety of a cinema seat!

The reality is a disturbingly different film, dark and sombre, a 17th century candle-lit England, a portrait of the poet and debauchee John Wilmot, and one that ultimately bows out to a feminist heroine in the form of the great actress Elizabeth Barry (played by Samantha Morton).

In an opening prologue, Wilmot tells the audience that they will not like him. With the gusto characteristic of Depp, he throws himself into his melodramatic character in a way that is markedly different from his many half-serious, half-comic roles. As if to win his wager, he is out to repulse us - but not just with licentious excess: the tragedy of Wilmot is that he possesses genius but is unable to use it to furnish his own fulfilment. He is a tragic character, no Don Juan that follows a promiscuous lifestyle as a summum bonum, but a man of inner greatness for whom the outer world is so boring that he loses himself in drink and sexual excess and eventually alienates those around him. "I have to speak my mind," he says, "for it is always more interesting than what is going on around me."

As the 2nd Earl of Rochester, Wilmot is in and out of favour at the court of Charles II (John Malkovitch) and frequently upsets his lovely wife (Rosamund Pike) with his whoring and drinking. But his wife's jealousy is eventually piqued not so much by the loose women or the ale-house, but by Wilmot's love of the theatre - especially in the form of prostitute-destined-for-greatness, Elizabeth Barry. At a time before the emancipation of women, when the stage had recently been the sole province of men, Barry is determined to make it as an actress. She is hobbled by inexperience and a lowly position, but Wilmot takes her under his patronage and tutelage. Wary of the deal, Barry resists, saying she wants to rise by her own efforts - not so Wilmot can take the credit! He asks her what drives her, and her response, her passion for theatre, the desire to thrill and move an audience, is one that Wilmot identifies with, for he is tired of the lukewarm pastiches that trivialise even great writing.

Unfortunately for Wilmot, his own greatness is on the ebb. It was said of him that he was, "A man whom the muses were fond to inspire, but ashamed to avow." His taunting of the king and a scurrilous lampoon of Charles II in front of the French ambassador help to seal his fate.

Samantha Morton continues to show her acting talents with a substantial (if not substantial enough) part and Malkovitch is an adequate counterbalance to the very considerable stage presence of Depp. The screenplay (based on an earlier play starring Malkovitch) sparkles with wit and, even if the direction is a little uneven or turgid at times, it is an admirable and important debut from Laurence Dunmore. The desaturated colours and muddy, rain-sodden English countryside create an air of foreboding entirely appropriate for a work that is more serious than its title suggests.

Intellectually, we are treated to the drollness and intelligence of Wilmot but realise that he is a 'locked-in' and isolated character, a loner and barely appreciated trailblazer (in some respects like the great Marlon Brando to whose memory, among others, the film is dedicated). We also see the folly and weakness of his philosophy.

Wilmot wrote:

"Consider real Honour then, You'll find hers cannot be the same; 'Tis noble confidence in men, In women, mean, mistrustful shame."

Yet it was the honour of the lowly Elizabeth Barry that ultimately inspired him and, somehow, remained ever out of reach.
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10/10
Saw the Libertine last week.
TwilightShadows21 September 2004
The Libertine is a movie that is of Oscar caliber. Stunning, unbelievable and brilliant....even these words do not accurately describe Depp's execution of this part.

We were blown away and that is the best way to describe it. It was funny in parts, raunchy in others and finally, tear-jerking. I found myself holding my breath so many times, because Depp's acting was so amazing.

When Rochester starts to show the ravages of his disease towards the end, all I could think of was that Johnny FINALLY got his wish....to play a character as ugly as possible with his face so mutilated and scarred that he was almost beyond recognition. It was MAGNIFICENT!! He was truly hideous and it was a good reminder of the toll that syphilis took on a person in those days.

This movie is not for the faint-hearted or easily offended. It's mid-17th century England at it's grubbiest, filthiest and most depraved. There is foul language, plenty of nudity and phallic symbols are used liberally throughout this film, although Rochester is always fully clothed.

We definitely felt there was much more chemistry between Johnny and Rosamund Pike, who played his wife, than between Johnny and Samantha Morton. Perhaps it was supposed to seem that Morton's character Elizabeth Barry did not really 'click' with Rochester, as that was the impression we were left with.

The sex scenes, even between Rochester and Barry are rough -- almost emotionless, as opposed to being actual 'love' scenes.

It was the opinion of our group that Johnny Depp has elevated himself to that upper echelon of actors who are to be revered for their skills and talent. This role is the crowning glory of his career to date and it's time he is given his due for being one of the best actors of our time.

Although the film needs some fine-tuning, we left the theater in awe of the magnificent performances we had just witnessed.
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10/10
Depp's Greatest Performance
captjacksparrow-125 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The film is introduced by The Earl of Rochester, portrayed by Johnny Depp.

It is a tongue lashing so profound that we feel as if the Earl individually admonishes each one of us for intruding on his life...

So rises the great magnificent work of John Wilmot, a quite perverse fellow that doesn't care for anyone, including himself. Losing his faith in God, turns his anger into lust.

This is by far, Johnny Depp's best performance. He is on screen for every breath taking minute...His movements and voice reflect the Earl, as if the Earl has transposed his soul into Depp.

Johnny glides through this movie, with emotional outbursts to tender words of seduction. Not once does Johnny expose his flesh; perhaps becoming the Earl, and the Earl's need to never expose the real Wilmot.

Laughter, sorrow, anger and wonder will keep you guessing as to what Johnny will throw out to the audience next.

Prior to the Earl's death, Johnny's scene with his wife, in the sitting room is superb. Oscar breath taking superb!

You will mourn Wilmot's passing, and the end of the movie.

Yes, Johnny, we do like you.
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9/10
Depp does it again
pippernippus21 November 2005
The libertine - What a film... Despite its murkiness, and turgid subject matter, Johnny gives what has to be, his most intricate and breathtaking performance. The first forty-five minutes focuses mainly on John Wilmot's drunken and lecherous ways, and the final forty-five minutes (roughly at around the time that Johnny removes his wig), the sad and awful truth of the life of Rochester kicks in, and from then on, its a cracking story. At the final scene as the light fades along with the haunting words of Rochester's final monologue, I don't think that I would be alone in saying that I was moved to goosebumps and spine chills. Depp is just so intense that frankly, he is beyond brilliant. If the academy don't recognise him this time, I will personally have 'words' with Mr Weinstein! On the whole, an absorbingly different film that deserves all credit.
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10/10
Do You Like Me Now?... Yes, though I didn't mean to...
Lmbinc21 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
John Wilmot was a complex, brilliant man. Having read about him, and having read his poetry, I was not certain a film about him could be done that portrayed those points in any meaningful way. The Libertine shows Wilmot for what he was, a man of many personalities, interests, and indulgences.

When the story begins, after a marvelous prologue warning the audience not to like him, Wilmot is for the most part still well. He returns after once again being banned from his precious city, having missed all of the good plays. You will discover later just how important a play is to him. He carouses with his friends, coming up with excellent, extemporaneous lines of verse at their insistence.

The heart of the film is struck when he enters the theater and witnesses the dismal failure of a newcomer to the stage. He sees in this woman a potential for taking the theater in an exciting new direction of realism and becomes determined to work with her, to have her become the diamond in the crown of London's theater.

At the same event, the King welcomes Wilmot back and gives him a service to perform. It is quite apparent that Wilmot has no love for the King nor his assigned task. How little regard the Earl has for said King and task is the other major thread of the story. Much of The Libertine is spent in taking us along with the Earl as he proves his wit is far exceeds the determination of the monarch to manipulate.

All the while, the Earl himself is dying. He has lived his life in his own fashion, always exceeding in every instance. Disgrace does not deter him; banishment does not deter him. To live is to go too far, and that is Wilmot's rule.

The characters surrounding Wilmot are engrossing. From the servant, Allcock (who does his best to prove his is all-cock) to the favored whore to the less than enthusiastic actor who turns down the offered role, everyone is either there to point the way to overindulgence or to run from it. Banned yet again from London, Wilmot shows us his own expertise as actor as he turns quack physician Dr. Bendo. The good doctor's cures are embodied by urine and fornication.

Finally Bendo is exposed to be none other than Rochester and brought back yet again to be told by the King that to be ignored is the only solution. Wilmot is returned to his country home to die. He flails at death, and in a masterful scene shows us that of which he is made. He drags his useless body, made up face, and false nose into the House of Lords on crutches. He offers a speech to save the line of succession that finally exposes what he could have been all along. You see at last fully what his talents were and how he has wasted them on his life of surfeit.

And finally you see him die. He has taken the short journey from brilliant, scurrilous profligate to corpse. He accepts the angels dancing on pin which he's always fought. Watching, you long for him to be young and well again to continue his journey.

While the film I saw was a work-in-progress, you could see a masterful story there. A little work on the soundtrack, a snip here or there of footage and this will be a film everyone will want to see and discuss.

The performances are magnificent. Johnny Depp has never played a role like this before, and you will be awe struck by his ability. John Malkovitch is stately and restrained. Samantha Morton does not let you forget that her purpose is to succeed upon the stage, and not in the bedroom. The music seems strange at first, then insinuates itself into the piece until nothing else would serve.
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10/10
EXCELLENT movie, EXCELLENT performances
brontes9929 January 2005
I had the "liberty" of seeing the libertine at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year. Though I am a big Johnny Depp fan, I truly didn't know what to excpect.

Considering the movie started off with Johnny's character 'pleasuring' his wife..... I was a little shocked, but the film really turned itself around and turned out to be funny, sad, disgusting and just a little rude.

I personnaly feel that Johnny Depp gave the most impressive performance of his career, and deserved considerable praise. It was probably one of the more difficult of characters he has played, and in my opinion the most compelling.

Samantha Morton was simply SUPERB playing Johnny's actress lover. She showed her true acting ability, and also portrayed a difficult character with ease.

Laurence Dunmore showed true potential in his debut film, and directed an EXTREMELY controversial piece making it stand out.

In my downright opinion, the Libertine has not received at all as much praise as it should be receiving. It would be a travesty not to release this masterpiece worldwide.

*********.5/10
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8/10
Debauching lives in the XVII century
jpgonc8 February 2006
The Libertine is a central story centered in one debauching, drunk, poet, charismatic, relentless and magnific man called Earl of Rochester.

As it often happened with other great men in the past centuries, Earl is posthumously recognized later as a great personality.

More than excellent acting for all the cast with Johnny Deep equal to his mastery performances, Malkovich, with a small role, equally great, a classical set of the XVII century, the royal court, the local vagrant Inns, brothels and theaters makes this business fly.

The story of a man without moral principles but at the same time intelligent, subtle and with a possession of a genuine libertine archetype, rare for the most common men.

The frantic image of a poet-drunker, embedded with the long-time relationship with prostitutes and a somewhat laziness ambiguous behavior of irrational life against the reason.

He falls in love with a rookie actress, "humiliates" the English King with an uncommon play presented to the french ambassador/representative of the French King and dares to do what it pleases him most: Erotic playwriting...

Excellent movie, that's all... but not for everyone.
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10/10
The Libetine, A Dunmore/Depp Magnum Opus!
Lyttlewyng21 September 2004
My experience in viewing Laurence Dunmore's The Libertine at the Toronto Film Festival left me overwhelmed and in a high emotional state of awe and praise. The dramatic opening prolog was enough to convince me that Johnny Depp is the life force in this powerful film. He is more than an actor portraying a character, he is a force that knows no limitations nor will stop at anything. His performance in The Libertine had such an effect, that I was overwhelmed and moved to the point of tears and fear. Once sitting in the darkened theater, I was not prepared for what I was about to witness. Slowly, coming into view, his beautiful face emerges as big as life itself and from his sinister and well formed sensual lips he speaks the words, "You're not going to like me." From there, this man gives the most gut wrenching speech I have ever heard. This is Johnny Depp like you've never seen before. Powerful, intense, and compelling are an understatement. I felt as if I were hit between the eyes with a forty-five automatic and left spent without even remembering the act. Even Laurence Dunmore could not say enough about Johnny's performance and I give him high praise for his art in progress. In my opinion Dunmore handed the reins to Johnny allowing him to play the Earl without restraint. Not only was Dunmore courageous with that decision, he was brilliant in doing so.

This period piece about the wretched Earl of Rochester has him go through incredible transformations and, willingly, pulled me along with each gritty step. I loved him, I despised him and I wanted him. Most of all, I felt him in my soul and this I will never forget. This Oscar worthy performance by Johnny Deep truly needs to be experienced.

The film was the perfect vehicle in allowing Laurence Dunmore his creativity to soar with its wonderfully wicked and gritty feel and intense acting from Johnny Depp and Samantha Morton. John Malkovitch was superb as well, however, I would have liked to have seen more scenes with him and Mr. Depp.

After watching Johnny Depp in The Libertine, I am convinced, he is a powerful force who, not only took my breath away, but held me on his rock hard pedestal and kissed my soul.
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8/10
I'm 33 years old..and I'm dying.
Scarecrow-8829 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The Earl of Rochester(Johnny Depp, in his finest performance I believe)is invited back from being banished in the country by Charles II(Malkovich, very effective as the long-nosed King)to London where he begins where he left off..embellishing himself with women, wine, and the theater. Charles allows the burden of such a troubled genius because of his intellect and amusing banter when it doesn't sink it's fangs too deep. Unfortunately, his willingness to submerge himself into depravity will destroy him. He really isn't a very happy man and his pleasuring purge is a way of drowning out such sorrow. When he takes on an understudy, Lizzy(Samantha Morton, a bit too theatrical)to show her the proper way to exude her true talents in her performances on stage, Earl falls madly in love with her. It awakens something within, a passion for life that isn't there when he is home with his gorgeous wife, Elizabeth(Rosamund Pike). When he pulls one prank too many(a hilariously perverse play for a French man of great importance that Charles wishes to impress for money his country has a lack of consisting of dildo's and the Earl himself dressed to the nines exactly as his King in a form of mockery)his life descends into disease and poverty. His body ravaged with pox and his face overwhelmed with horrible diseased scarring..his nose needs a silver covering while he can barely walk, hobbling everywhere he goes. He would lie dead, a shell of what he once was, at age 33.

The film doesn't judge John Wilmot, but certainly shows who he was and the film is frank in dialogue how he spoke. He followed the wants of the flesh despite the feelings of his God-fearing mother or his dutiful wife who took and took without anything given back to her. Wilmot was kept by Charles because of his abilities, but even those become futile as he slowly washes out reality with the alcohol he consumes. Though, the film is fascinating to me because of Johnny Depp's performance. Depp is enigmatic and Rochester..he held my interest the entire time. The film is directed by a hand-held which may drive purists batty who are used to period pieces being lensed in a slick pattern. The director here seems to what to bring an ugliness and poverty-stricken feel to Charles' land at this point and time..by having the camera move, even at times where the camera seems to be held by some amateur using his camcorder taping live events from the 1800's, we feel like we're actually nearby watching Rochester ruin his life as a voyeur. I always felt that is why directors of today like to binge on the hand-helds. They want to bring a personal feel to the viewer as if we are placed right within the action of that moment. I liked the use of this device in this film, not to mention the "dirty" cinematography so many critics fussed about. I like that the film shows the period as ugly and deformed as Rochester becomes. But, without Depp's giving his all to this character, showing him with all the faults and loss, the film wouldn't be as successful as I thought it was.
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10/10
A dark and muddy experience of realism
Victorgoat15 March 2006
I was lucky enough to work as an extra on The Libertine and from my three day experience I was confused as to how this film would look when it was finally released. It seemed to be shot in a hurried, slightly chaotic manner but upon seeing the final product I realise the genius of those involved with this movie. It captures so much a dark and frenzied time in history, full of intrigue and plotting. It is such a dark and muddy film but added up to a unique and refreshingly different cinematic experience. Thought it was Johhny Depp's best performance to date and also Samantha Mortan was fabulous as the determined and hardened actress who succeeded in out smarting the Earl and getting what she wanted. Hope this marks the start of more realism in todays films and sure in the end it will become a cult favourite even if it has limited success now.
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9/10
Excellent period piece with formidable acting & writing
sabrelady20 September 2004
Familiar with the play & was curious to see the adaptation . Jeffreys expands his work effectively but several very direct elements will need edited of the more licentious behaviors of the period. Writing is witty and pungent and accurate in its representation of the period. Dunnsmore's direction is firm and the dark & smokey grey brown tones he uses work well for the film. Performance wise- Depp gives a Oscar worthy performance incredible in its range & depth. Malkovitch also holds the screen as King Charles , The actor's personal Maturity showing as both the heaviness of power & the indulgence of the character. Needs editing by about 20 mins ( it IS a work in progress) but other than that & some cleaning up technically of the sound in places ( esp the beginning) The work stands up excellently! Would recommend!
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9/10
Oscar Material
lm13da200223 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw a test screening of The Libertine in Jan 2005, a month before the Oscars. I'm a big fan of Johnny Depp and I was pulling for him to win the Oscar for Finding Neverland, but after I saw The Libertine, I changed my mind. I said, give Jamie Foxx the Oscar for Ray (Foxx totally deserved it, of course) but give Depp the Oscar next year for The Libertine. The entire cast - especially John Malkovich, Richard Coyle and Samantha Morton - are all marvelous, but Depp, as the outrageous rakish rogue John Wilmot of Restoration-era England, is absolutely outstanding.

I have never seen Depp show this much range in one film before. No, make that in his entire career. He evolves (or devolves, as it were) with consummate skill from disaffected, spoiled rich kid with nothing better to do than spend his days drinking and spouting insensitive comments to hurt his friends' feelings -- to mentor, taking on a struggling actress as a "project" and turning her life and career around -- to broken, defeated, slum-living drug addict -- to silver-tongued political advocate. His final compelling monologue, delivered to the House of Lords as he painfully hobbles around on limbs wasted away by disease, is the crowning achievement of his career. This is far and away Depp's best work ever.
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1/10
Dull and pretentious
quis_ego24 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I had high hopes for this. Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton, John Malkovich, lots of good things said at various film festivals... but the lack of a widespread release should have been a hint. This film isn't very good at all.

It will mark me as a philistine to say so but I thought about 7/8 of the film was pretentious rubbish. Much of the dialogue was authentically 17th century, but it was hard to listen to because the sound mix was bad, and the print was so grainy it looked like a pirate DVD. Perhaps not being able to clearly see or hear the goings-on was intentional, but the lack of plot didn't give us much else to concentrate on. There was lots of artful focusing and un-focusing which just appeared as though the cameraman didn't know what he was doing. But most obvious of all was the fact that it was all pretty boring and everyone was acting their little socks off in it to make it "worthy". There are several scenes between Depp and Morton where he coaches her to be a better actress. These scenes drag terribly, they are unmoving and long-winded and slow the film to a virtual halt.

I will give credit where it's due and say that Johnny Depp in a long curly wig, eyeliner and cocked hat was worth seeing. The servant character was excellent. And to be fair the whole boring shebang massively improved about 20 minutes before the end. At this point, the Earl gets syphilis, becomes horribly disfigured, loses control of his bladder and has to start wearing a strap-on metal nose when his real nose rots away. He also gives a jolly rousing speech in the House of Lords which makes us actually care about him for the first time in the film. If the whole thing had been anything like as engaging as the last 20 minutes it would have been an excellent film. As it is, our Christmas and Thanksgiving turkey has been served up early.

Still, worth going to see if only to witness John Malkovich's 'English' accent. You'd think he'd know better after starring alongside Ted Theodore Logan in Dangerous Liaisons, but no.
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10/10
Best film I've seen in years.
castlemshelties13 March 2006
After reading the reviews I was hesitant to see this film. I cannot believe how negative the reviews were after seeing the movie. I've seen it FOUR times this weekend alone. It's fascinating beyond belief and Johnny Depp's best performance ever and that is saying something. He's just brilliant. I was captivated and moved by every performance and haven't seen a collective effort like this in ages. The entire cast was incredible. I was surprised at how many funny moments it had and how none of it was, in any way, boring or longwinded as the reviews stated. The review that "got to me" was how it had "rendered Johnny Depp charmless"....alls I've got to say is that Johnny Depp in this performance could charm the pants off of Mother Theresa. I don't know who the woman was who wrote that but she she must be frigid not to mention blind deaf and dumb. Movies are religion for me and I go once or twice a week. I cannot imagine a movie like Brokeback Mountain getting all of this great press while an absolute masterpiece like this is set aside. I liked Brokeback Mountain but for me it was not much different from any afterschool special I've ever seen. The Libertine at least takes a bawdy and desperate character like the Earl Of Rochester and MAKES you love him despite everything he does to make you feel otherwise. Johnny Depp is a God. No less. He and Marth Plimpton both deserve Oscars. I'd love to see this little film storm the Oscars...poetic justice...no pun intended.
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10/10
Ignore the negative reviews; SEE THIS MOVIE
ohiostepmom12 March 2006
I don't understand the poor reviews this film has gotten. I loved the movie. Therefore, I would like to make the following observations in its defense:

1) The movie is set in 17th century England. Of course it is muddy and poorly lit. IMHO, it's about time a filmmaker had the guts to show such a period piece accurately.

2) The movie is about wasted talent. It's a morality tale. Whether from drink or deeply rooted personality/mental disorder or both, this man had a brilliantly clever mind and he wasted it. He was numb for a whole variety of reasons (many are not detailed in the movie, admittedly) and was therefore constantly trying to feel. He became bogged down in the fatalistic and cynical view that life is meaningless, rather than in trying to make his life mean something. The movie shows his resulting struggles and the suffering he causes those who care about him while he gradually is made through horrible consequence to see how such waste leads to his own destruction.

3) The movie has a message beyond the question of one man's redemption or lack thereof. Don't waste life's gifts; use them wisely. He started to see the error of his ways by the end of the film, a little too late I'm sure he realizes, makes attempts to mend with mixed success, and thus asks the question "do you like me now."

4) Johnny Depp's performance is beyond description. He loses himself in yet another character, and from accent to mannerisms is completely consistent in his depiction. The negative reviewers obviously take this seemingly limitless talent for granted. Let their loss not be yours.

5) It's about time a movie actually contains some dialog, as opposed to merely being a pasted together, trite conglomeration of one-liners and head shots.

6) See the movie.
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8/10
Johnny Depp triumphant as repellent Johnny Wilmot
Geofbob21 December 2005
The Libertine takes as its subject John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester (Johnny Depp), an English 17th century courtier, who was a drunken, womanising rake (with a taste for the occasional man or boy) and a writer of obscene verses, which made fun of his peers, including his friend, King Charles II (John Malkovich); but who, at the same time, was a sublime poet when he chose. One major lapse of the movie is that it makes little of this last aspect of Rochester's character; focusing almost exclusively on his seamy side. (The real Rochester was also a war hero at one period in his life, but the film seems to make no reference at all to this.)

Though more than a tad stagy (betraying its origins as a play), and possibly not making as much of its "hero's" contradictions as it might (how could such a proponent of personal freedom so strongly defend the monarchy?) the film provides a compelling portrait of Rochester, and of the times in which he lived. No elegant, sparkling, pastel-tinted, period piece, this - the light is dim, the colours drab, and if FX smells were yet available, the director - ex-commercial director, Laurence Dunmore, at the helm of his début feature - doubtless would have used them. Few of the characters are outstandingly attractive, and even the actress Elizabeth Barry (played by Samantha Morton), who becomes Rochester's ingénue and mistress, wears little make up, and is unglamourous by today's usual standards.

But above all, this is Depp's movie, though he is ably assisted by the prosthetics technician responsible for constructing his ravaged face, crumbling under the effects of drink and the pox. Once more, Depp demonstrates that his versatility has few bounds, and he is equally compelling as the handsome, manipulative seducer at the film's outset, who confides to us "you won't like me"; and as the repulsive, broken figure at its end, wearing a silver cover to protect his decaying nose, who overcomes his infirmities to make a bravura speech to the House of Lords, in favour of the right of succession of the King's catholic brother.

It's ironic, but evidence of Depp's vast range, that his recent Golden Globe nomination is not for this role (though perhaps the film was not eligible) but for Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! For my part, Johnny's Rochester deserves every accolade available, including the Oscar, and Governor of the US state of his choice!
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8/10
Clearly I missed this when it first came out?!?!?!??!
dibiase_m13 March 2006
I have just seen this movie yesterday (being March 12,2006), and I am in shock that this movie was released some point in 2004 (by the way I saw it in a regular theatre). I knew nothing of the movie, except Johnny Depp, John Malkovitch and the title "The Libertine". With those three facts I went to see it without knowing anything else...Surprised and in awe of what I saw? - Absolutely.

I am a huge fan of this genre of epics and I must say I thought the cinematography was exceptional and the portrayal of the characters were breathless...I definitely will have to see it again to grasp half of the dialogue as it was filled with complexities and subtleties and emotions that were missed the first time around. I was not expecting to see a movie so heavy, dark and rich with dialogue as what I saw, but I am so pleased with the talent of actors and the director. WHY DID THIS MOVIE NOT EVEN APPEAR IN THE Oscars???????? WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT????? I would give it a 10/10 except I personally thought the makeup near the end was a bit over the top,however, I may be wrong and I would have loved to see more of Mr. Malkovitch.
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8/10
Best Depp performance to date
Jasmin411 March 2006
I was in awe of this movie. Johnny Depp did an incredible performance. He brought the Earl of Rochester to life in all of his infamous glory. At first I thought the movie was going to be nothing more than a two hour exploit of the earl's sexual encounters and I knew that would get old quick. But the movie dealt with the internal struggles that the earl endured and Depp made those struggles REAL. The earl spent his life fighting his inner demons and Depp took us into that world.

Samantha Morton did a wonderful job herself. Her moments on stage with the earl reciting lines from plays was OUTSTANDING. I think she would be awesome in a play.

I will admit the movie was milking that rating R for all it could. There were some interesting sexual and sexual themed scenes in this movie. Made me a little uncomfortable at times but the sexuality in truth is secondary in the movie. It is not the main point. Yet I do believe this is a movie for adults only.

What was amazing at the end of the movie you could hear a pin drop in the theater. Everyone was fixated with the movie. Too bad it took TWO years to get this movie into theaters. And too bad many theaters did not carry this movie.

I applaud Johnny Depp's performance and this just adds to his very diverse list of characters. Amazing the same actor who played the Earl of Rochester also played Willy Wonka. I am a Johnny Depp fan and he keeps making movies that reaffirms why I am a fan of his movies.
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5/10
With brilliant performances, it's a shame this is not a brilliant movie
angel-2734 February 2007
The cast is amazingly brilliant. The direction was raw and honest-- no matter the subject. The play on which the screenplay is based is a great work in and of itself which gave me a cause to be rather expectant of the movie's release. Depp, Pike, Morton, Malkovich (who originated the lead role on the stage) and the supporting cast were all wonderful. The disappointment came with the unfolding of events, with the editing choices, and the decisions to cut and paste so roughly that ultimately resulted in a rushed story line and a confused audience. What had the potential for immense cinematic greatness was defeated by pace and form. Very disappointing, but 5 out of 10 simply for the beautiful cinematography and outstanding performance by the cast.
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10/10
Depp's Oscar Performance...
tccandler24 November 2005
"Did you miss me?" "I missed the money." "Good. I love a whore with sentiment."

Combine "Leaving Las Vegas" with "Dangerous Liaisons" and add a sprinkle of Marquis de Sade-like debauchery, and you have this literate and poetic tragedy called "The Libertine".

The tragedy is not the demise of a man, so much at it is a demise of promise and talent.

Johnny Depp, an actor who has arguably become the most popular actor of the last decade, stars, in what I consider to be one of his finest performances, as John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester. Binge drinking, philandering, debaucherous, vile, contemptible, sexually depraved, callous, hateful… all words one could use to describe Wilmot. He could also be labelled handsome, playful, witty, literate, wise, insightful, romantic, experimental, courageous and unique.

"The Libertine" explores the final year of his hard-drinking life as he drifts away from his wife (Rosamund Pike), courts a young actress (Samantha Morton) in the playhouse, and is himself courted by the King to write a magnificent play that will impress his political connections and fellow dignitaries.

But the Earl of Rochester is a self-loathing man, so consumed by his own thoughts and brilliance that the world bores him. He is a true cynic of the time, unable to allow happiness into his life.

The opening monologue of the film has him declare to the audience that we will not like him. But he may as well be talking to himself. He is not of this world… He is either too far above it or too far below. His only resort is to destroy it at every turn. If he is going to be miserable, then so shall everyone else be too.

The film is shot almost entirely by candlelight… perhaps signifying the dying of the light inside the man. It creates a sad and lonely mood, somber enough to befit the subject. Johnny Depp's transformation and arc in this film should be recognized by the Academy. It is a masterful turn.

Lizzie is played powerfully by the enigmatic Samantha Morton. She holds her own with Depp in a perfect scene where the Earl teaches the young actress how to play truth on stage rather than the imitation of it.

Rosamund Pike plays Elizabeth Wilmot, the lonely wife who sees her husband destroying his own life, and simultaneously hers. She bounces from restrained to hysterical in a ranging role that marks her as a great young actress who deserves great parts. With nice turns in this year's "Pride & Prejudice" and "The Libertine" coupled with an atypical choice to appear in the action flick "Doom", Pike is well on her way to breaking the Bond girl jinx and making it as an actress of note.

John Malkovich, who also produced this period-piece, is note perfect and subtly understated as the King who prods the Earl to sort his life out so he can get the literary masterwork out of him.

"The Libertine" explodes on to the screen for the first hour but falters slightly in the second. I was confident that the film would be an A+ until the final third delivered some messy narrative rhythm and forgot to tie up some loose ends. However, it still ranks as one of the best films of 2005.

Depp, Pike, Morton and Malkovich announce their lines with Shakespearean authority. The script is literate and poetic. The story is tragic and yet justified. As the Earl drinks himself into oblivion, we find ourselves wishing that he could somehow right the ship and give those around him a glimmer of hope. But he can't even squeeze that ounce of kindness out in his final moments.

The final monologue has him asking the audience if we like him now. The answer is that we could have, if only he'd liked himself.
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7/10
Depressing and Bizarre...
legolasgreenleaf7721 September 2004
Having experienced this as a "work in progress" at a festival, The Libertine was unlike many films I've seen--bizarre, vulgar, gory and difficult. And, though such a mix CAN work in some motion pictures, The Libertine just doesn't seem like one of them.

The Libertine takes place in 17th Century England and follows the questionable life of John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester (a very atypical role played by Depp). Scenes of erotic images (not for the prude or faint of heart) seem to plague this film unnecessarily, as do bad modern puns spoken with a 17th century tongue (I found this to be very misplaced). One can argue that The Libertine was done in poor taste and dragged at many points, as does it leave the viewer completely puzzled in many areas.

However, the acting by Depp and all supporting cast was SUPERB, the costuming was wonderful and the grim atmosphere was achieved with utmost ease by the director (in his own words at the screening, he wished it to portray England as "a very dirty and vile place".) Like it or not, The Libertine will leave you thinking about it's message and images long after you leave the theater.
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One of my favorites *spoilers*
Phantasma_the_Black12 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I find this movie beautiful, intriguing, touching and somewhat disturbing. Pretty much artistic, yet appealing to different types of audience. However, most likely it won't be enjoyable for everyone, because of explicit content and perhaps disturbing images.

Director Lawrence Dunmore did an amazing job and created something that could easily be considered as a masterpiece. Johnny Depp gave a standout performance (one of the best in his career; he should have won Oscar for it), as well as Samantha Morton, John Malkovich and Rosamund Pike.

I've heard many people complaining how "dark" the movie is, as if it was filmed in shadows. But that's what XVII century was like - shady, dark and dirty.

One of the best aspects of the movie is both physical and psychological metamorphosis of the main character. In the first part of the movie we see a man who has everything, but values nothing. Most people around him like him only because he's well known, gorgeous looking and influential person. Those who do really know him, such as his wife and mother, truly love him the way he is, but he doesn't seem to care much about them As the movie proceeds he finds true love, that, as he said, teaches him "how to love life", but he becomes ill and everyone begins to avoid him. Ironically, the only people who are there for him at that point are the ones whose love he had never appreciated.

One could possibly say it's a shame that it hadn't been a major Hollywood project, because more people would have heard of it, but I think it's better this way, since it has avoided some of the boring Hollywood clichés.
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