The Libertine - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Libertine Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 1, 2012
I waited a year for this movie from Netflix, what a dissapointment. The worst Johnny Depp movie I have ever seen, Filty from start to finish. Not worth the wait or the effort. 1/2 star
Super Reviewer
June 6, 2010
A squallid period piece mired in the mud of historical accuracy and a meandering direction.

Wasting a very good performance from J Depp, Samantha Morton and John Malkovich, the film treds unevenly over the cobblestones of its debauchery - too graphic - yet not shocking, as the "love" scenes often become too long, too artsy, and too pointless.

The hedonistic aspect of the film is intriguing, and somewhere within there is a message pondering acts for self versus the selfless act. - I believe that the script would have been better if it had adhered more towards these ponderings instead of concerning itself with minor charactors, historical detours and dramatic non-sequitors.

Samantha Morton's charactor comes across as beguiling, and yet we remain unsure of her motivations, as so much appears to get glossed over by a simple "he is my lover" - but what does that mean? What is the context and why the later appearance of nonchalance? Was there something implied in the king's request that she be a spy against Depp that would lead her to detach herself from him? So much could have been mined here.

The introduction and conclusion are a nice touch, and the speach before the house of lords a wonderful tour de force by Depp (and almost worth viewing the rest of the film for), but even when the film does it right, ie. said scene in the house of lords, it squanders the dramatic credit by almost throwing away the subsequent meeting between Depp and Malkovich, tossing aside the true theme of the film just as easily as Depp's depraved charactor throws away the respect of his king and the adoration of his followers.
Super Reviewer
March 10, 2006
Throughout this movie I kept saying to myself. "underneath the vulgarity there is a good movie with good story." I am still not sure if I was right or not! I really just dont know. Johnny Depps opening Monalogue was spectacular. Very Very well done. And of course, its Johnny Depp so you know the entire performance with be amazing and He did not fail. Now I know that his movie was pretty much HATED by the critics but I was very surprised that Johnny was not nominated for an oscar! He was completely immersted in his character wich, I guess he is in all of his movies, and I really beleive that the Academy should honor him more often then they do.
Super Reviewer
½ April 6, 2010
This movie was a bit overhyped for me, but it is equal parts tragedy and badassery. "Do you like me now? Do you like me now? Do you like"

The female performances are all fierce and fiery. Samantha Morton plays a passionate if talentless ingenue, who under Wilmot's tutelage, gives perhaps the best Ophelia I've seen to date (not that I've seen many), even though it's only snippets, and it might be anachronistic as well. Rosamund Pike is icy and sensuous in the carriage scene and icy and tormented in the big confrontation scene.

Some excellent zingers and profoundly romantic moments. "May I always be in your heart, sometimes in your thoughts, but never in your debt." Ooo chills!
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2009
Johnny Depp did a tremendous job along with John Malkovich, but it wasn't a particularly strong film. The story was a bit too simplistic and tended to drag. I enjoyed the style of it, but it had very little originality to it.
Super Reviewer
½ May 11, 2007
I saw this a while back and wasn't impressed. But because Johnny Depp is both gorgeous and talented, I thought I'd give it another chance. I'm glad I did. The story of writer/pervert John Wilmoth, Duke of Rochester, got better the second time around. I paid more attention to the performances and liked what I saw. Depp is of course almost always great, but Samantha Morton as Wilmoth's theatre protege and lover was wonderful. She had to play a bad actress who is turned into a great actress and she did a whale of a job. John Malkovich, who I like but seems kind of mannered most of the time, does a good job and is almost unrecognizable as the king. The scenes of Wilmoth's progressive syphillis that eventually kills him are horrific at times, and makes you want to go out and buy a whole case of condoms just in case. The whole film has a smoky sepia quality because it was supposedly filmed in light sources from the time period only -- sunlight streaming through windows and candlelight. Call this the love child of Dangerous Liaisons and Quills and you'd be close to the feel of this film. I have the feeling this film is going to grow on me.
Super Reviewer
December 25, 2006
The Libertine tells the story of the Earl Of Rochester, hedonist and all round cad who scandalized the court of King Charles II. Expecting a saucy period romp bolstered by Johnny Depp's irresistably wicked charm, what I actually got was a bunch of obnoxious dandys sneering at the world in self-consciously dense cod Olde Worlde speak. I've always been suspicious of scripts that involve writers writing about writing as it invariably spirals down into self absorbed pretentiousness; and it seems watching actors act about acting has pretty much the same results. The only attempt to wrest the painfully self-indulgent script from the stage is to wave the camera around in the pseudo documentary style I hate so much and constantly use the kind of sepia-tinted retro filter that the directors of over-expensive bank adverts are so fond of. The peformances are professional but stodgy and passionless and it contains the kind of constant stream of expletives and nudity that made me think the cast might as well as just wandered up and down a stage holding placards with "ART" written on them. Malkovich is solid despite the ludicrous prosthetic nose he is forced to wear and Rosamund Pike manages to inject at least a small modicum of humanity into her underwritten part but the script has intelligence but no insight, wit but never amuses and romance but never engages. In the end it's a charmless vanity project that will only ever attract an audience because of the presence of Mr. Depp. Try Dangerous Liaisons or Quills instead.
Super Reviewer
December 17, 2009
He didn't resist temptation. He pursued it.
Super Reviewer
½ August 3, 2006
Despite having a pace that's a little too slow and the presence of a few boring patches throughout, this is a fairly decent film. The performances, music, and cinematography are the best parts. B-.
Super Reviewer
June 7, 2008
The life of John Wilmot took a hugely wrong turn, and this movie followed it to the letter. Despite his assurances to the contrary (or perhaps because of them) I found Rochester's character very endearing, as Johnny Depp cannot help but make his creations. The dialogue is very witty and the characters very human and affecting. All around a very good film, if quite dark. It's hard, as always to watch characters destroy themselves and fall apart, but for the most part this movie is not really about that.
Super Reviewer
March 4, 2007
Johnny Depp and Johnny Vegas in a film together, hmmm. I'm quite mixed on my feelings toward this film as both Johnny Depp and Samantha Morton took great parts, however, the shock factor in this film is the language used which is not expected in a period piece, which I found pretty school-kidish.

There is a physical transformation that took place before the end which was well done. Overall I don't think I was as impressed as most, as this seems to be a popular film with others.

VERDICT: Can't say I'd really recommend this film, but watch it if it comes your way
Super Reviewer
½ August 14, 2007
One of the more "scandalous" movies starring Johnny Depp, but it was good.
Super Reviewer
May 16, 2007
A great story. Deep is absolutely amazing in this one. Fits the role like a glove. Although filled with lots of sexual content, I would still say this is a great film.
Super Reviewer
½ April 3, 2007
one of the worst films EVER
Super Reviewer
½ July 3, 2006
This movie was amazing. It's too bad the production company shelved it for so long and refused to promote it. But at least they released it. WARNING: If you don't want to see Johnny Depp as a disfigured writer, don't watch this movie. Otherwise, you're good to go.
Super Reviewer
½ July 12, 2013
A raw and ugly tale of debauchery, The Libertine tries to be offensive...and succeeds. The story follows famed writer John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, as his decadent lifestyle consumes him. Johnny Depp, Rosamund Pike, and John Malkovich lead the cast and give strong performances, but the characters are largely one-dimensional. Additionally, the cinematography is especially poor; giving the film a drab and grainy look. The Libertine is a bleak and morose film that fails to capture the fascination with John Wilmot.
Super Reviewer
½ March 19, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]"The Libertine" takes place in England in 1675. King Charles II(John Malkovich) has recalled John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester(Johnny Depp), from exile in order to make a request of him. He asks Wilmot if he could spare a moment of his time from his incessant drinking and whoring and do two things for him - assume his seat in the House of Lords to make a speech on occasion, and use his gifts to write the great English play. Wilmot, of course, has other ideas. He does return to the stage but not to write - instead he wagers twenty guineas with friends that he can tutor Lizzie Barrie(Samantha Morton) who has just been booed off the stage into becoming a great actress.[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]"The Libertine" is an intelligent, witty dissertation on the decision between using one's gifts for the betterment of society or the pleasures of drinking and fornicating. The movie may argue otherwise but I have to go for the latter, if that is your choice.(And consider that William Burroughs and Hunter Thompson may not have become the writers they were without the copious amounts of drugs they consumed.) [/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]This is not a pretty movie but then the 1600's by all accounts was not a very delightful time to be alive. That is why I admire Wilmot because he was honest in depicting his surroundings.[/font]
Super Reviewer
½ February 21, 2013
It must be the right day to review boring films because we have another one here. Johnny Depp clearly cares about the Earl of Rochester John Wilmot but the viewer doesn't. Depp can fuddle and duddle around and be true to the Earl's spirit but once again..we don't care.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ December 3, 2011
Johnny Depp is playing a notorious, ye olde English, unpredictable drunk with who knows what diseases. Three years my foot; it only took them a year to dish out a sequel to "Pirates of the Caribbean". No, I'm kidding; this is really different from "Pirates", not just because we can completely confirm that Johnny Depp's character is straight, but because this is whole lot more disturbing than those kiddie films ever were. I mean, all that series had that was mildly discomforting were undead skeletons, shooting a monkey a couple of times, a lizard-headed monster eating someone's.. face off, the same lizard-headed monster... getting decapitated, a clean shot... to a woman's head, Davey Jones using his tentacles to... mutilate some guy in the head from the inside-out of every opening in his face, including eye sockets... Wow, those scenes really showed how sick "Disney" is, and yet none of those moments were quite as disturbing as the scene in "Dead Man's Chest", where a pirate outfit-wearing Keira Knightley was trying to seduce Jack Sparrow, and the filmmakers were actually expecting us to find her attractive. After I'm done with Charlton Heston's dated performance in "Planet of the Apes", Ms. Knightley's buck teeth are going to haunt my nightmares for a long, long time, unless the sick, depraved stuff that came out of Johnny Depp's mouth in this film don't mess with me first. Now, I am proud of this film for having the guts to tell the dirty truth about that time and I don't usually mind obscenities, unless of course, it's completely gratuitous, and boy howdy, just take a wild guess how necessary the content of this film is.

This opening credits are quiet, and subtle, until they are broken by Johnny Depp providing a prologue while drenched in a painting-like lighting, and right off the bat, you're expecting this film to be brilliant, all the way up until Johnny Depp talks about haunting your mind and self-pride during a certain post-film activity. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's only the beginning, and sure enough, the film proceeds to deliver a relentless, virtually unstoppable barrage of disgustingly gratuitous filth, and that is much more of an understatement than anything. The barrage of gratuitous filth is not only exhausting, but inconsistent with this film's type of artistry and, above all else, its time, for although this kind of sick dialogue was as prominent then as it is now, it sure doesn't feel that way, not because of the screenplay, but because director Laurence Dunmore sets a tone that's too focused on the differences between then and now. That's just fine in any good formal period piece, but as you can easily figure out, this isn't all that formal, and because Dunmore's tone for the film is so time-focused, casualities feel all too much like anachronisms. Really, as much as I've complained about this film's obscene elements, it's not like the whole theme is completely inappropriate. In fact, this film's concept of audaciously exploring the highs and especially the lows of hedonism is a brilliant one, but the film is so relentlessly unsubtle and so unaware of its true intentions, that it just comes out as a messy piece of squandered potential. However, it's not like the film is bad, for although its flaws are consistent, what is just as consistent is its fine strengths that could have done wonders if this film was more consistent and tasteful, but still stands as this film's savior.

A consensus is a general agreement, and it would seem as though a general agreement about this film is that it's cinematography is a mess. True, it is a touch murky, as well as too artistic for themes this crude, but in spite of that, I'm calling bull on all of the critics that called this a failure visually, because this film looks stunning. Like "Barry Lyndon", the visual style is so vividly reminiscent to that of a painting of the time, only this time, there's more grit and bleakness in the tone, and although it fits the concept much more than the execution, it still thrusts you into the time. Heck, I'll go so far as to say that this cinematographer out-"Barry Lyndoned" "Barry Lyndon". Still, next to the style, as well as the lovely production designs, it's the performers that really carry this film, particularly our certain leading man. Man, Johnny Depp could be playing Vlad the Impaler, and you'd still like to hang out with him, because he always has such charisma and presence, and really knows how to manipulate that when he needs to. Here, like the cinematography, Depp contradicts the lack of subtlety in the director's execution by bringing subtlety and grace that may be diluted by the unsublte and disturbingly informal dialogue he's been given, but is never washed away, because Depp has such a natural leading man presence, and one strong enough to carry even the messiest of films like this, and turn it into something more around every corner, from its quiet beginning, to its admittedly great ending.

Overall, its inventive, brilliantly audacious concept finds itself squandered by relentless and gratuitously crude themes that render the film completely devoid of subtlety; and it certainly doesn't help that director Laurence Dunmore's overemphasis on the time leaves much should-be casual dialogue to feel misplaced; and yet, he still saves the film with his brilliantly artistic visual style that adds both grit and vividness that's too good for this film, much like Johnny Depp's typically fine lead performance that carries "The Libertine" to its position as a hit-or-miss, but still generally interesting portrait on the horrible consequences of hedonism.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
½ July 2, 2011
Johnny Depp gave a 110% to this and it shows. While the narrative itself is a bit muddled with uneven pacing, you can't help but be transfixed by the films atmosphere, rich dialogue, and rich performances. I see a lot of complaints about the 'murky' and 'bleak' cinematography, but I thought it complemented the decadence shown on camera. The biggest issue is the third act, which felt rushed. Interesting watch to be sure.
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