Throwback Movie Review: The Libertine

Posted on 04/13/2013 in Movies / 1 Comment

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"The Libertine"

The Libertine Director: Laurence Dunmore Screenplay writer: Stephen Jeffreys Release Date: 11/23/2004 Genre: Drama Cast: Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton, John Malkovich and Rosamund Pike


Plot Summary: 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.

A couple of months ago Jen posed the question on her blog “Is there a movie that you wished was a book?”, [Jenn’s note – this question was actually posed by Parajunkee during a Follow Friday] which she answered with the movie Blade.  I really had to think hard about this question and I think I finally have the answer.  I was sitting in my room the other night randomly watching movies when I popped in The Libertine and immediately got swept into the story (this movie always gets me). Half way through the movie  I got to wondering if this was based off a book, so I hoped on goggle and found it originally started out as a play and then moved to the big screen.  **LIGHT BULB** I must admit when this movie came out I did not know a lot about it.  To be honest I had never even heard of the movie till I got to the movie theater and the movie I was going to see was already sold out.  I noticed that Johnny Depp was in this movie and said “well it can’t be bad, Johnny is in it”, bought myself a ticket and saw the movie.


****ALERT**** This movie is not for children or teenagers.  This is definitely a rated R movie with vulgar dialogue and scenes filled with sexual insults and references.  For adults, if you can get past the vulgarity of the movie and see the beauty in the message of the story, it is a wonderful, heart-wrenching story of the Earl of Rochester.  You love to hate him as much as you hate to love him.****


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

The cinematography was masterful for filming a period piece.  I loved how they filmed this movie so much I had to look up the kind of camera they used to film the movie because it was so unique and not normal by any means.  IMDb states that the movie was shot with a hand-held camera and the entire movie was shot using candles for light.  No movie lighting at all!  How amazing is that!!  See when you watch a normal movie it is very bright and colorful.  This film was not shot like that at all.  With the use of nothing but candles for light, everything is very dark and dull which really shows off the realism of the set.  Also I think there must have been some type of film over the lens of the camera.  The pictures is not clean cut and sharp.  It is very…ummm…how do I say this….well to be honest, it is kinda dirty.  The costume and set design was some of the best I had ever seen for a period piece!  This movie is not shot thinking everyone is glamorous and beautiful all the time like most films.  This film is the most rustic I have ever seen.  You see how dirty and gruesome everything is which makes the movie all the more better and that royalty is not as glamorous as you thought they would be.

 The script was amazing!  Yes it is vulgar.  Yes it has strong language.  Yes it is very brutal in every sense a script can be but it is so elegantly put not even the love of my life, William Shakespeare, could have done any better.  When you combine a script like that with the all-star cast, you have a movie you can’t help but fully emerge yourself into.  You laugh, you cry, you stare in complete “train wreck horror” at the implications of the story line and you find yourself engrossed in a movie with such sick-n-twisted/fascinated- OMG DID I JUST REALLY SEE THAT AND WHY AM I STILL WATCHING THIS- that you can’t wait to find out what happens.  When the movie is over you have a new sense of utter revulsion yet respect for the women and wives of the men in the 17th century.

I LOVED everything about this movie from how it was filmed, costume, script and acting.  As a matter of fact it is my SECOND favorite movie of all time and my favorite Johnny Depp movie.  I think this is his greatest performance EVER (and I have never seen a bad Johnny Depp movie)!!  You can tell by how perfect this movie was made that a lot of hard work and passion went into every detail of this movie.  In my opinion this movie did not get enough credit and was rated rather poorly.  I give this movie not only two thumbs up but 5 stars as well.


Mrs. Barry, you must acquire the trick of ignoring those who do not like you. In my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: The stupid and the envious. The stupid will like you in five years time. The envious, never.


 Movie synopsis from
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The earliest movie Kristina can remember watching is “The Neverending Story”. It was all downhill from there. She then watched any movie she could from old black-n-white, classic musicals to the current movies coming out. While other kids were outside playing, Kristina could be found watching movies over and over and over again, experiencing new things each time she watched them, memorizing lines and acting out the scenes. She loves everything about them from the directing, set & costume design, acting and foundtrack/film score. Her favorite genres are B-movies, British films and other foreign films.

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One response to “Throwback Movie Review: The Libertine

  1. I really loved The Libertine and when I first watched I was so shocked with how to the point the script was, but I quickly fell in love with it anyway. It’s odd but I think this is one of the few Johnny Depp movies that I don’t own. \n\nSide Note: Blade is a Marvel comic book series, lol. I doubt she means that though.

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