2 June 2014

The Libertine


The Libertine 2004
  • Director: Laurence Dunmore
  • Based on play by Stephen Jeffreys
  • Cast: Johnny Depp,  Samantha Morton, John Malkovich, Rosamund Pike, Stanley Townsend, Francesca Annis, Tom Hollander, Richard Coyle, Rupert Friend, Kelly Reilly, Jack Davenport
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Johnny Depp  Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Slow Burn, Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Arizona Dream, Benny and Joon, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco, Dead Man, Nick of Time, Donnie Brasco, The Brave, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Astronaut’s Wife, Sleepy Hollow, The Man Who Cried, Chocolat, Blow, From Hell, Lost in La Mancha, Pirates of the Caribbean (all four of them), Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Secret Window, Finding Neverland, Libertine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland, The Tourist
    • Samantha Morton – Elizabeth the Gold Age, In America, Jane Eyre, Morvern Callar
    • John Malkovich – Burn After Reading, Beowulf, Colour Me Kubrick, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Being John Malkovich, Portrait of a Lady, Mary Reilly, Heart of Darkness, Of Mice and Men, Dangerous Liaisons, The Killing Fields
    • Rosamund Pike   An Education
    • Stanley Townsend – Inside I’m Dancing, Moll Flanders,
    • Francesca Annis– Cranford, Macbeth,  Cleopatra
    • Tom Hollander – Hanna, The Soloist, In the Loop, Valkyrie, Pirates of the Caribbean, Elizabeth the Golden Age, A Good Year, The Darwin Awards, A Mother’s Son
    • Richard Coyle -  A Good Year
    • Rupert Friend – Young Victoria, Boy in the Striped Pajamas
    • Kelly Reilly –Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Sherlock Holmes, Mrs. Henderson Presents
    • Jack Davenport – Pirates of the Caribbean, The Boat That Rocked
  • Why? JD. 29th in JD marathon
  • Seen:  Once before. Now: May 30, 2014
Once I showed this film to a class of adult history students thinking it gave a good insight into 17th century England.  That it does but it was a bit embarrassing.  The sex scenes are frequent and explicit which I had forgotten.
John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester, tells us in the prologue that we will not like him. He is indeed a despicable cynic. He is weary of his libertine sex- and drink-saturated life and finds some spark in the theatre, now flourishing again in the reign of Charles II after its near demise under the Puritans.  He discovers Lizzie Barry and determines to make her the best actress the theatre has ever known.  She knows she can do it herself but they start working together. She has enormous depth and talent and does an Ophelia that breaks hearts. 
He falls in love. He’s dying of syphilis and alcoholism. He is thirty- three years old.
It’s sad. It’s gritty, muddy, filthy, degenerate. As is he. One can see the point the Puritans were trying to make.
Political intrigue, international scandal, utter degradation.  Rochester is the man who has to go too far to feel that he is alive.  Too far is truly too far.
JD has never been better. Malkovich, Morton and Pike as well. The whole cast actually.
Don’t show this to your history students. But tell them to see it. And see it yourself.

4 * of 5

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