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The Libertine - DVD Review

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</script></div>{/googleAds}The Libertine opens with a prologue delivered by Johnny Depp as the disreputable John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, staring directly into the camera. Lit only by a flickering candle and flanked by a glistening wine goblet, he tells us we're not going to like this movie. OK, maybe I got that wrong. He actually said it's his character we aren't going to like. Regardless, consider it a warning. Because what follows is an exhaustive exercise in patience and perseverance that unfortunately never pays off. Sure, watching Depp ply his craft is mildly entertaining, but even that grows a bit tiresome after we realize we're being forced to accept and even cheer for his morally despicable character.

Set during the Restoration, a period that saw an enlightenment in science, the arts, and especially sexuality and sensual acceptance, The Libertine follows the life of the Earl, one of the most lascivious and self-destructive wretches England ever knew. But maybe he wasn't such a bad guy after all. At least that's what first-time helmer Laurence Dunmore and screenwriter Stephen Jeffreys try to tell us. He was also a great poet, playwright and acting teacher.

John marries Elizabeth Malet (Rosamund Pike), a young woman whom he kidnapped only two years prior to their marriage. But their union begins to suffer when John falls in love with Elizabeth Barry, a young actress under his tutelage played by Samantha Morton. This affair and a subsequent betrayal, send the Earl's life into a plunge that results in his destruction, both emotionally and physically.

As John's life sinks, so does the story lose its way. The visuals are often too muddy and murky. Sure we understand that London was a dark and dingy place at the time, but the means of conveying that experience should not make it hard to watch. Sloppy editing and hand-held camera shots call too much attention to themselves as techniques rather than feelings.

Slightly saving the whole package from total ruin is the performance of Depp. It's evident he takes some kind of perverse pleasure in stewing in the debauchery of his character. He loses his soul, then his heart and finally his body, yet he keeps space for a twinkle in his eye at the thought of redemption.

The Libertine is never entertaining and is only occasionally interesting. But like the disinfectant cake at the bottom of the urinal, it's always filthy, vile, and disgusting. Don't expect a naughty little trip to the theater that's easily understood. The dialogue is thick and genuine with Shakespearean flourish that takes work to comprehend. After watching The Libertine, you'll most assuredly want to take a shower.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; Closed Captioned.

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: olor; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; director's commentary; making-of featurette.

* Commentary - with director Laurence Dunmore.
* Deleted Scenes - Eight deleted scenes with optional Dunmore commentary, playable separately or together for an aggregate of 15 minutes.
* Featurette - 35 minute, fullscreen making of featurette Capturing The Libertine.

Number of discs: - 1 - Keepcase Packaging


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