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The Libertine

✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

United Kingdom, Australia
·
2004

Rated R · 1h 54m

Director Laurence Dunmore
Starring Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton, John Malkovich, Rosamund Pike
Genre Drama, Romance
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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.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

50

Variety by

Starting out seductive but ending up tiresome, debuting director Laurence Dunmore's pic is an honorable misfire.
50

The New Yorker by Anthony Lane

Deep and Morton are really flying here (the scene in which the hero instructs the heroine in the passionate possibilities of her art), and they leave the rest of the film looking heavy on its feet. The second half, especially, grows dour and maundering, and by the end the movie seems to flail in desperation, more like a work in progress than like a finished piece.
38

New York Daily News by Jack Mathews

Not since Philip Kaufman's 2000 "Quills," the story of the Marquis de Sade, have we had so debauched a literary and movie hero, and Johnny Depp plays him with the relish of an actor who has made odd-ball characters his specialty.
63

TV Guide Magazine by Maitland McDonagh

Johnny Depp's coruscating, rigorously uningratiating performance as debauched, self-destructive 17th-century aristocrat John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, is the glue that doesn't quite hold together first-time director Laurence Dunmore's adaptation of Stephen Jeffreys' 1994 play.
50

The New York Times by Manohla Dargis

The rhythms of the dialogue move to the same beat as steadily as a metronome ticks and tocks, while every sentence is polished like stone, absent the jaggedness of real breath and life. You can hear the play in this thing without even knowing it was based on a theatrical production.
50

Village Voice by Michael Atkinson

The Libertine's trouble lies precisely in its efforts at conjuring the historical past: No one in the film seems much more convinced than I am that because playwrights and authors wrote in clever, high post-Elizabethan diction, then everyone spoke that way every day, in the pubs, with whores.
88

Rolling Stone by Peter Travers

This one-of-a-kind spellbinder from first-time director Laurence Dunmore is not afraid to shock. Depp is a raunchy wonder, especially in a time-capsule-worthy opening monologue.
20

L.A. Weekly by Scott Foundas

The picture is an enormous disappointment... The result is one of the most self-consciously grimy movies on record - it looks as if the negative were developed in a mud bath.

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