Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Libertine

Before I went to see The Libertine last night, I knew precisely three things about John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester:

1. He penned his poetry riddled with the pox (from this song).

2. Something about a monkey (from the cover of this book).

3. There's a little enclave of streets named after him in Kentish Town, London NW5.

Now I've seen it, I don't know much more. You have to take it for granted that this chap is a brilliant poet, because the film simply presents him as a drunken, lecherous arse. It all takes place in a sort of murky green fog. At first I assumed that this is because it was filmed on the Isle of Man, which is a deeply weird place. Then I thought that maybe that's what things were actually like before there was electricity and sanitation and the internet and stuff. Eventually I realised that the fog is intended to illustrate the boy Wilmot's pissed-up state of mind, since at one point it clears and you see him actually attempting to write something.

Some people seem to think that this is one of Johnny Depp's best performances, worthy of an Oscar etc. etc. To which I say pish and tush. Just because he's got a wig on and is talking in sub-Shakespearean cadences, doesn't mean it's great acting. I swear his expression doesn't change once from start to finish, except to do that slightly comedy sideways-flicky look he always does, coupled with a bit of sneering (which I reckon he lifted from Richard E Grant in Withnail & I anyway). And the whole of the second part, when he's all hideous and syphilitic and wigless, seems to have been lifted wholesale from The Madness of King George.

Nope. I've seen Johnny doing Great Acting (mainly in Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow) and I've seen him sleepwalk through some execrable films (mainly Secret Window and - dear lord - The Ninth Gate) and this pretty much falls somewhere in between. Sorry JD.

He does look nice when he's looking quizzically at a pineapple, though. Still looking for a picture of that.

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nibus said...

It's about Gary Wilmot? Why wasn't I told?

Juggling Mother said...

some of the few things I know about Rochester is that he was a debauched, lewd, foul mouthed, perverted poet, who was exceedingly rich, so thats alright then.

Actually Ive read quite afew bits of his stuff, which is quite good. I have no idea how he managed to get any of it published tho.

I think I'll give the film a miss judging from your review.