The newly formed Weinstein Company is giving this wild thing a limited release in the hopes of getting Oscar attention for Johnny Depp. No argument here. You have to admire an actor who finds time between the family franchises of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Pirates of the Caribbean to sandwich in the role of the dazzlingly debauched John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester. It's hard to tell what shocked seventeenth-century England the most about the earl. His depraved poetry? His skill as a cocksman with both ladies and gentlemen? His play about Charles II (John Malkovich) that portrays the king as a giant dildo? This one-of-a-kind spellbinder from first-time director Laurence Dunmore is not afraid to shock. Depp is a raunchy wonder, especially in a time-capsule-worthy opening monologue. Any Wonkaphiles who can't endure watching the earl's nose fall off from syphilis are just wussies.
From The Archives Issue 328: October 16, 1980