THUMBS DOWN FILM REVIEW RATING!
Watching this sumptuously filmed movie, one gets the sense that more time went into cinematography, lighting, and camera angles than the story itself. Watching the DVD’s extra features confirms some of those suspicions, as the film took over seven years to make (due to financial woes and other problems).
If you’ve read English literature and history, you are no doubt familiar with the drinking and debauched behavior of Sir John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester. His raunchy writings and lifestyle planted him in an early grave but posthumously spun a web of literary notoriety. Some considered him a man "ahead of his time." Others thought him a shallow defiler of women who simply had a gift with his quill (both quills ...ahem!) Whatever your historical take on the man, he certainly was "interesting." But that’s where trying to make a film out of such a life fails. "Interesting" is not enough ...even when accompanied by great camera work.
Johnny Depp (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST) plays John Wilmot and does so in his usual deft manner. He’s creepy, delivers lines like a razor, and immerses us in this unsettled man’s life. But the story is only entertaining thanks to Depp’s portrayal. The rest of the film is bland and slow, accompanied by a love story that makes no sense.
For some (as mentioned previously), the excellent lighting, dizzying camera pans of the theater, and dark sets will make this film pure eye-candy. And it is. But there needs to be more than just good filming; there needs to be a story we can grasp that is filled with angst. You most certainly won’t find that here.