The Libertine

March 10th, 2006


The Libertine

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Still of Johnny Depp in The LibertineStill of Johnny Depp and Rosamund Pike in The LibertineThe LibertineStill of Rosamund Pike in The LibertineStill of Johnny Depp and Samantha Morton in The LibertineJohnny Depp at event of The Libertine

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.

Release Year: 2004

Rating: 6.4/10 (20,555 voted)

Critic's Score: 44/100

Director: Laurence Dunmore

Stars: Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton, John Malkovich

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 economical 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.

Writers: Stephen Jeffreys, Stephen Jeffreys

Johnny Depp - Rochester
Paul Ritter - Chiffinch
John Malkovich - Charles II
Stanley Townsend - Keown
Francesca Annis - Countess
Rosamund Pike - Elizabeth Malet
Tom Hollander - Etherege
Johnny Vegas - Sackville
Richard Coyle - Alcock
Tom Burke - Vaughan
Hugh Sachs - Ratcliffe
Rupert Friend - Downs
Kelly Reilly - Jane
Jack Davenport - Harris
Trudi Jackson - Rose

Taglines: He didn't resist temptation. He pursued it.


Official Website: The Weinstein Company |

Release Date: 10 March 2006

Filming Locations: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, UK

Opening Weekend: £278,482 (UK) (20 November 2005) (203 Screens)

Gross: $10,852,064 (Worldwide) (16 September 2007)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Based on the play by Stephen Jeffreys, which had been produced by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and starred John Malkovich and Martha Plimpton.

Continuity: When the King talks to Lizzie at the theater, her shoulders are alternately covered, then naked and covered again, without any visible cause.

[first lines]
Rochester: Allow me to be frank at the commencement. You will not like me. The gentlemen will be envious and the ladies will be repelled. You will not like me now and you will like me a good deal less as we go on. Ladies, an announcement: I am up for it, all the time...

User Review

A personal synopsis of the Libertine

Rating: 10/10

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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