Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
From time to time, a gem-like line shines from the squalor, but in general, it's merely the film's suffocating cynicism that registers.
It's a bit too muddy, dismal-looking and smoky to beguile us, too fixated on filth and too dreary-looking to really shock us.
As the character grows sicker and quieter, the drama's energy fades.
Ebert & Roeper:
This has got be one of the least erotic and grungiest films about hedonism ever made.
[Director] Dunmore creates a memorably grimy London, but the moral grime covering the film proves less memorable.
Depp portrays Wilmot, who was also remembered for scandalous poetry and theatrical satire, as a careless and generally unpleasant fellow, who is neither funny nor profound. And we're supposed to spend two hours with this guy. Ugh.
Stinkers this rapturously self-assured don't come along often, and when they do, they deserve to be honored with the proper giggling disbelief.
Los Angeles Times:
With its emphasis on muddy streets, muddier language and raunchy behavior, Libertine is a trying experience.
Rochester may have been a cultural visionary, but the movie reduces this notion to a parable of bad-boy celebrity hitched to an uninteresting love story.
Dunmore slogs through the story with an overripe sense of gravity that, when mixed with the film's carefully botched look, makes for one murky moviegoing experience.
Such a torturous mess that it winds up doing something I hadn't thought possible: It renders Johnny Depp charmless.
Detroit Free Press:
Without context and reason to care, I never understood why I was lurking about here the first place.
Dallas Morning News:
One of the few films to maintain an air of stuffiness even while sharing intimate details of debauchery.
Though Wilmot's life hardly wants for interest, screenwriter Stephen Jeffreys (adapting his own play) doesn't know where to place his emphases, giving us scattered, disconnected scenes.
A seductively entertaining, fangs-bared historical comedy.
Depp has a wonderful time as the Earl, and why wouldn't he? The movie plays to his deepest boyish desires to jump into the dress-up box and emerge with a frilly shirt and one of Mom's discarded wigs.
You will not like the Second Earl of Rochester. But you will not be able to take your eyes from him. Having made his bed, he does not hesitate to sleep in it.
San Francisco Chronicle:
The point seems to be that too much of a good thing leads to a vast sense of nothingness and bleak cinematography. Alas, it also results in transforming a film about a sensualist into a remarkably sexless enterprise.
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Depp opens the movie by looking into the camera and announcing, You will not like me now, and you will like me even less as we go on. That turns out to be true.
Globe and Mail:
A movie that serves up what its debauched subject would never have countenanced -- sanitized smut with a moral attached.
What emerges from the bilious murk of first-time director Laurence Dunmore's film is a sad picture of an intelligent and talented writer who opted for self-indulgence and gratuitous insult over anything more meaningful.
The Libertine's libidinous charm makes most of its faults instantly forgivable.
The cheesed-up life and times of one John Wilmot, the Second Earl of Rochester.
We are supposed to thrill to the devil-may-care attitude of this Byronic rebel-gent, yet we never find out what he's about or what he stands for. He's a self-impressed question mark.