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John Wilmot's short life and sensational legacies
Johnny Depp, whom women friends tell me is the handsomest man on the screen today, does Rochester a service in this messy film biography by embodying the quality which insinuates itself into literary discussion of him – his palpable physical attraction. Physical, because, while Rochester is a great metaphysical poet, he projects across the centuries a presence which is not only sexual but profoundly social: he was the celebrity everybody wanted to know. He was so unlike us, we reviewers, academics and tame poets. The self-destruction, the agonized late repentance, even the fate he selfishly thrust on his family, cannot dissipate the nimbus his name evokes. Seldom has glamour cohabited with intelligence so forcefully and so seductively. [...]
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