Yesterday evening I watched The Libertine. It’s diverting and stylish; there are some lovely, elegant, theatrical speeches; but there’s not as much sex as I’d hoped for. Johnny Depp doesn’t go over the top and John Malkovich is even more pleasingly restrained. I wouldn’t go out of your way to rent it though.
I was puzzled by the respective performances of the two female leads: Rosamund Pike as the Earl of Rochester’s wife and Samantha Morton as his mistress. Rosamund Pike is supposed to be the posh, pretty ex-Bond girl and Samantha Morton the Oscar™-nominated Serious Actor, but, despite her having far less screen time than Morton (and her being slightly younger), Pike’s performance outshines Morton’s. In a corny role for a woman, Pike is far, far more convincing than Morton in her more unusual one.
Delivering her important opening declaration of ambition, Morton sounded like she was reading off an autocue. It was so bad I wonder if they accidentally put in the wrong take. I can’t believe she was that awful. I’ve seen her do other things better. What went wrong? (The irony is that Morton plays an actress.) There are various horror stories going around the Web about the film’s stop-start funding so perhaps money problems had something to do with the final cut.