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>'The Libertine' deserves a look

Picking up the (March 10) Gusto, I found what I expected -- Jeff Simon's lazy, ambiguous, uninspired review of "The Libertine."

Having just come back from seeing it for the first of (so far) three times, after an infuriatingly long wait for this movie to get wide release (due to the Weinsten Company playing Russian roulette with it), I may have read what I expected from Simon, but not what this extraordinarily beautiful, brave, intense and inspired movie deserved -- 2 1/2 stars?

Shame on you for not at least properly marking the film's brilliant performances, let alone the exquisite writing and raw truthful ambience the film's makers succeeded in giving a great many viewers around the world already -- and might for more Americans as long as they don't allow themselves to be influenced by cheap and repetitive reviews. (My suggestion is to search out the many complimentary reviews of this movie, and also the reports on the obstacles it went through getting made and then distributed.)

My greatest concern isn't that anything will prevent "The Libertine" from becoming a blockbuster -- it was not made with such an intention -- but who it will discourage from experiencing it.

Despite the now broken-record criticizing of its hand-held camera work, graininess and natural lighting, "The Libertine" is one of the most visual films I've ever seen. Through the sincerity of its cinematography, its intimacy and immediacy, it doesn't give us a proscenium stage, not even theater in the round, but puts us right there, one of the ensemble, extras without lines. As another lover of this film said: "It's not fussy around the edges, it's a real film. It's a GREAT film."

Only actors who are devoted to their craft would allow themselves to be filmed in a way that at times shows them blurred, and other times exposes every pore, blemish, swallow, shine of sweat.

This is certainly where Johnny Depp shines as the most extraordinary actor of a few generations. And now with his portrayal of the Libertine, his talent rises to the delivery of 17th century poetry and dialogue with a flawless British accent that expresses all the layers, struggles, degradation and transformation of such a complex character.
Mr. Simon, even if you felt you had to do what critics like you do, which is take another's vision and pretend it was your own, you might have ended your review, which trashes this movie, more honestly than telling the reader not to avoid seeing it. For what you meant was for them to see it with the same lack of vision you did.

I could give your review 1/2 of a star more than "The Shaggy Dog" earned. Then, maybe not. Somehow I'm just not feeling that generous.

Diane Denton


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