Johnny Depp is back, but critics aren’t thrilled with the star’s latest performance.
Depp, 59, appeared at the opening night of the Cannes International Film Festival on Tuesday for a screening of his new French-language film, Jeanne du Barry, in which he plays the former King of France Louis XV.
King Louis XV is the first movie role Depp has stepped into since winning a high-profile defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard last year. He sued Heard over a Washington Post op-ed in which she referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp was awarded US$10 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
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Almost a year later, Depp stood before a cheering crowd at Cannes, who gave the teary-eyed actor a seven-minute standing ovation after the film’s screening.
Depp coyly winked at the camera in the room and appeared grateful as the French audience proved they are still head over heels for the American actor.
However, despite the festivalgoers’ reactions, critics have published tepid reviews about both Jeanne du Barry and Depp’s performance.
According to a Variety critic, though the film “demands to be taken seriously,” Depp fell short and appeared “strangely uncomfortable in the role — adequate but not especially engaged.”
“Depp’s the kind of player who delivers practically every performance with a wink, so it’s odd that even when his Louis is actually supposed to be winking (at Jeanne), the sparkle isn’t there,” wrote Peter Debruge.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the movie a middling three-star review. He called the film “an entertaining spectacle, only partly aware of its own vanity.” As for the acting, Bradshaw wrote that Depp was better than a simply stunt-casted actor, but claimed all of the performances were “a little opaque.”
A review from Jordan Mintzer of The Hollywood Reporter called the film “sumptuously made” but “kind of bland.” He wrote that Depp’s performance “offers a few early thrills and then mostly yawns.”
Still, Depp appeared staunch about his faith in Jeanne du Barry — and altogether unbothered by those who have questioned his comeback.
At a press conference for the film on Wednesday, Depp — who was 42 minutes late to the event — said “abstract whispers” about his personal life shouldn’t cloud the film.
“The majority of what you have been reading the last four or five years … with regard to me and my life, what you’ve read is fantastically, horrifically written fiction,” Depp said.
Depp was also asked if he felt “boycotted” by Hollywood amid the years-long dramas of his defamation lawsuits. (As well as Heard, Depp also sued the British tabloid The Sun over an article was published calling him a “wife beater.” In 2020, he lost the trial when a U.K. judge decided The Sun’s claims were “substantially true.”)
“Did I feel boycotted by Hollywood? You’d have to not have a pulse to feel like, ‘No. None of this is happening. It’s a weird joke,’” Depp said. “When you’re asked to resign from a film you’re doing because of something that is merely a function of vowels and consonants floating in the air, yes, you feel boycotted.”
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Depp was most notably asked to step down from the Harry Potter spin-off franchise Fantastic Beasts. Now, though, he says he’s not interested in returning to studio projects.
“I don’t feel boycotted by Hollywood, because I don’t think about Hollywood. I don’t have much further need for Hollywood, myself,” Depp continued. “It’s a strange, funny time where everybody would love to be able to be themselves, but they can’t. They must fall in line with the person in front of them. If you want to live that life, I wish you the best.”
Depp’s presence at the Cannes Film Festival has been the subject of fierce debate. Buzz about his attendance has pretty well usurped all other conversations about the festival, especially online. Even actors starring in unrelated films have had to face questions about whether Depp should have been invited to the festival.
Jeanne du Barry is the story of Jeanne Bécu (played by French actor and the film’s director, Maïwenn), the illegitimate daughter of a monk and a cook who becomes a social pariah and King Louis XV’s final mistress.
— with files from The Associated Press
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