The Libertine

Year: 2004
Production Co: The Weistein Company
Studio: The Weistein Company
Director: Laurence Dunmore
Writer: Stephen Jeffreys
Cast: Johnny Depp, Roasmund Pike, John Malkovich, Tom Hollander, Rupert Friend

The role itself was tailor made for Johnny Depp, who I imagine sees himself much like Lord Rochester – hedonistic, sensual, smart, rebellious and irreverent. He's also a good enough actor (and chose roles well enough at the time this film was made) so that he wouldn't shy away from a story that takes the rose coloured glasses off – we see Rochester in his final state falling apart from the disease a lifestyle such as his in the 17th century inevitably led to.

Despite his marriage to the winsome, knowing and long suffering Elizabeth (Pike), Rochester has no interest either in her or in the high society, wanting only to sink into the filthy mire of London with his debauched friends and drink and whore himself into paralysis at every opportunity.

Even the favour of the King (Malkovich), who sees the political points to be scored by having Rochester turn his charisma on the current troubles of state facing the crown, can't sway him – he habitually and contemptuously throws every courtesy and opportunity for respectability back from where it came.

But as he tells us in the opening coda where director Dunmore breaks the fourth wall and has Depp characterise Rochester's life in Character – 'you won't like me'.

A good supporting cast and what looks like a faithful reconstruction of the period add to the dramatic weight even though Depp can more than handle the material. Most of the films he's bene in that I've talked about lately have included a comment about why he won't do such smart, adult films like '____' any more, and this is one of the films I'd be referring to.

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