Thursday, April 20, 2006

Title:The Libertine
Cast: Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton, John Malkovich, Rosamund Pike, Johnny Vegas, Jack Davenport
Director: Laurence Dunmore

First there was Shakespeare In Love. Man, woman, stage, sex.
Then there was Stage Beauty. Man, woman, stage, sex.
But a bit darker.
Then there is The Libertine. Man, woman, stage, sex.
But syphilitic, drugged up, full of dildoes, and midgets riding penis chariots. What next?

The Libertine is set shortly after the time period that features in Stage Beauty. Women have taken to the stage after a period of puritanism, with Charles II on the throne to promote a looser society. However Johnny Depp is the titular Libertine, an aristocrat in exile due to his excess. However John Malcovich's Charles is willing to give Depp another go.

So Depp returns to London. Where thanks to his excessive lifestyle, and been done that attitude, he is quickly bored. Dangerously so. Until he sees a young actress played by Samantha Morton, who isn't very good, but he reckons with his patronage she could be great. With Depp's new interest in the theatre, the King assigns him the task of coming up with a play for the visit of the French ambasador - something special. Of course this is a mistake, cue a play built around Morton celebrating spring and sexuality, replete with as many phallic objects as they can get on stage. This time, he has gone too far!

Like I say, The Libertine is a bit like Shakespeare In Love and Stage Beauty, but stripping it down to the grubbiest, filthiest, most lurid level. Depp devours the screen, over acting and over the top, his libertine equals parts Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates Of The Carribean) and Inspector Fred Abberline (From Hell). Samantha Morton and Rosamund Pyke (Depp's long suffering wife) are both strong, though particularly under used. Though it is possibly Johnny Vegas as an aristocrat dandy that sees the film at its most absurd.

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