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The Libertine
The Libertine
Actors: Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton, John Malkovich, Paul Ritter, Stanley Townsend
Director: Laurence Dunmore
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2006     1hr 54min

Oscar® nominee* Johnny Depp delivers "a tour de force performance" (Baz Bamigboye, The Daily Mail) in the "seductively entertaining" (Jan Stuart, Newsday) The Libertine. As the celebrated writer and bad boy John Wilmot, s...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton, John Malkovich, Paul Ritter, Stanley Townsend
Director: Laurence Dunmore
Creators: John Malkovich, Chase Bailey, Colin Leventhal, Daniel J.B. Taylor, Donald A. Starr, Jessica Parker, Stephen Jeffreys
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Weinstein Company
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 07/04/2006
Original Release Date: 03/10/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 03/10/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 54min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 2
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Member Movie Reviews

Jerry S. from OCEANSIDE, CA
Reviewed on 9/12/2014...
Heeeeeere's Johnnnny! Loved It!
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Valerie P. from ATLANTA, GA
Reviewed on 7/6/2013...
Brilliant, fantastic (in ever sense of the word,) thoroughly captivating. This film is amazing in every area, from Depp & Morton's performances (along with the other actors/actresses) to the direction, set & costume designs, lighting (!!!), sound, etc. This film is a near to perfect as we can get in this modern age. Although some may find the visuals disgusting and completely unnerving at times, this is a very close adaptation to the truth. From what I've studied of these characters, the storyline is spot on with authenticity.

This is one of my most favourite films of all times and I regularly re-watch my copy often.

Obviously, I highly recommend it.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Ann B. from AURORA, CO
Reviewed on 1/10/2012...
This story was perfect for Johnny Depp - kind of a shocking and hideous yet strangely intriguing character. I think a little better knowledge of this historical character would have helped me understand the plot better, but I got enough to make me curious to learn more. Not for the faint of heart. Pretty heavy.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Suzanne B.
Reviewed on 5/16/2011...
Repulsive and disturbing, "The Libertine" explores the perverse worlds of the London theater and the reign of Charles II. This film, based on historical events and people, is quite the showcase for the versatility of actor Johnny Depp. Shockingly graphic at times and somewhat difficult to absorb, it is nonetheless captivating and quite well-written and expertly acted. It explores a level of debauchery so flagrant it caused me to flinch several times, yet had me in complete awe of both Depp and Samantha Morton, who are simply brilliant. Warning -- not for the faint of heart!
5 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

No holiday season fare here
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 01/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If you go into THE LIBERTINE envisioning Johnny Depp in his previous role as Captain Jack Sparrow or Willy Wonka, forget it. You won't find a similar persona here.

THE LIBERTINE is a dark film that the studio wisely decided to release only after the Christmas holiday season. In it, Depp plays John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester (b. 1647 - d. 1680), whose life of debauchery was a public scandal even in a society that tolerated the loose morality of King Charles II and his court. Ironically, as the film makes a point of depicting, Charles (John Malkovich) reluctantly, but regularly, banished Rochester from the royal presence for the liberties the latter took in lampooning the former's free-wheeling lifestyle.

THE LIBERTINE is a depressing affair mainly because there's nobody in it to like. Moreover, neither Wilmot nor the viewers' sensitivities are spared the ravages of tertiary syphilis, the disease that ultimately kills the Earl; the film is a great argument for the advent of penicillin. Only Rosamund Pike as Rochester's long-suffering wife may gain audience sympathy. Elizabeth Barry (Samantha Morton), the struggling actress whose career Rochester takes upon himself to further, apparently for uncharacteristically altruistic reasons, matter-of-factly accepts his help but remained unengaging to this viewer. The gloom is enhanced by a cinematography accomplished in somber, washed-out tones, particularly brown and dark green, with lots of shadows and murky candle light. Even the daylight is muted, as if in winter.

Now having said why THE LIBERTINE isn't light and airy, I have to also say that it's a powerful display of Depp's superlative talent. If the film wasn't so bleak, I'd expect a stampede to nominate Johnny for an Oscar. Rochester's two monologues for the camera, at the beginning and the end, the latter as his face recedes into darkness, are but hints of the excellence in between.

At one point in the movie, Rochester says (if I remember correctly): "Life isn't a sequence of 'urgent nows', but a listless trickle of 'why should I?s'." The tragedy for Rochester is that, at least in this screenplay, answers to the latter are piteously few. However, your answer to the question when contemplating seeing the movie should be: "Because Johnny Depp is as good as you'll ever seem him.""
Depp At His Best. | Venice, CA United States | 03/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"England, 1675. John Wilmot (Johnny Depp), the Earl of Rochester, finds his banishment lifted by King Charles II (John Malkovich). The King banished Wilmot a few months earlier for writing a poem critical of the Monarchy, but now Charles finds himself in a predicament. After fifteen years of increased personal, sexual and artistic freedoms, the British people are now dealing with disease, warfare and natural disaster. They aren't happy and this is testing Charles' reign. Charles decides Wilmot will write a play. However, Wilmot views his return to society as license to drink as much as he wants, sleep with as many people as possible and the King be damned.

"The Libertine", directed by Laurence Dunmore and written by Stephen Jeffreys, based on his own play, is a very good film, for the most part.

The film opens with Depp in darkness and shadow, holding a wine glass, moving towards the candlelight and into our view. Wilmot informs us "You will not like me". As he continues, he announces "Ladies, I am up for it all the time." This scene is already one of the most memorable in recent film. Because it is Johnny Depp, many women (and for that matter, some men) will swoon as soon as he appears onscreen, but as he begins to warn us, he further cements our memory of this character. His frank and open manner is very memorable.

Sure enough, as the film progresses, we don't like Wilmot. It is a testament to Depp's skill as an actor that we don't really care. Depp's portrayal is interesting and challenging, both of which more than make up for the lack of a likable hero in the story. Wilmot enjoys all of the pleasures of living in society and enjoys them well. As he and his wife ride back to London, he fondles her as she recounts how they initially met, a strangely erotic story portrayed in a charged way. In London, he immediately revisits a favorite bordello. Soon, he meets Elizabeth Barry (Samantha Morton), an actress who attracts his attention and receives his guidance. A good example of his uninhibited nature is displayed when Wilmot meets the man who will eventually become his new valet. After setting a test for the subject, Wilmot is surprised to learn the man's name is Allcock. Very fitting for the playwright. All the while, he drinks, and drinks, and drinks. Depp manages to make all of this carousing and carrying on seem entirely natural.

Later, when Charles calls upon John to write the play, for a visit from the French Ambassador, he pens a work about Charles, as only Wilmot can. But that is best left to your discovery.

What I didn't get from the film, or Depp's performance, was evidence of why Wilmot is remembered today as a good writer. During a few scenes, he creates some interesting verbal word play, but the one play we get a glimpse of is clearly designed to offend the monarch and little else. The work seems amateurish, even childish in execution, so it doesn't work as a testament to his ability as a writer.

"The Libertine" is strangely beautiful to watch. I suspect the movie was filmed using high definition video and available light. As all lighting during this period is provided by candle, light sources are inconsistent, flickering, allowing more dark to seep into the frame. Because of this same lack of light, the film has a very grainy look and all objects are drained of color imbuing a sepia tone throughout. As you watch the story, you get the sense of reading an old book, or looking at old drawings torn from a 17th Century manuscript. The look of the film is further enhanced by attention to detail in both costumes (suitably elaborate) and scenery (suitably muddy and dark). The look of the film is entirely successful, capturing details of London during the Seventeenth Century.

Samantha Morton and John Malkovich are both good, restrained and believable, providing a nice counterpoint to Depp's more theatrical performance. Malkovich doesn't scream or rant, as you might expect, giving his portrayal of Charles II more believability, more vulnerability. Charles II was vulnerable during this period, so it works. Morton brings a quiet power to her performance. Manipulated by Wilmot and Charles, she seems a pawn throughout. But as we watch her performance, we begin to question that, and realize perhaps she is stronger than we initially thought.

"The Libertine" is a very good film, featuring a memorable, uninhibited performance by Depp. But it doesn't fulfill its initial promise to convince us of why Wilmot is still remembered to this day. A late scene in the film shows a number of his writings and drawings being destroyed by a family member. Why was he remembered as a great writer? How was he remembered? Through word of mouth? How were his writings remembered?

Hopefully, the film will not suffer the same fate as its `hero'.
See this movie and decide for yourself
Margaret | 03/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Johnny Depp's performance in this stunning film is beyond anything he has done before. You will see dimensions of his talent that will only become deeper and richer with time.

This movie casts it's spell and is difficult to leave behind. Against the Earl's best advice, I cannot help but like him.

Do not let the critics influence you about this film. See it for yourself and decide. Your time will not be wasted."