Some actors know how to mail it in when involved in a project they don’t like in such spectacular fashion that it becomes fascinating in and of itself. Marlon Brando was brilliant when he was focused and stupefying in his awfulness when he wasn’t. Thus explains Don Juan DeMarco, one of Brando’s last films and the sort of film that shows just how pathetic Brando had become at the end of his career.
Don Juan DeMarco (Johnny Depp) believes he is the legendary Don Juan, clad in a cape and mask to boot. And of course he ends up in a psych ward for a mandatory 10 day stay; driving his first shrink to the point of giving up, Dr. Jack Mickler (Marlon Brando) takes on his case as he eyes retirement. Instead of curing his apparent delusions, Mickler finds that DeMarco has a profound influence on his marriage with his long suffering wife (Faye Dunaway).
The film is a fairly perfunctory romantic comedy that could be good, but ends up mediocre, but the one thing that is fascinating about the film is watching just how profoundly Marlon Brando mails it in. And that’s the key to the film’s partial unraveling: Brando’s inability to do anything but be horrible in it.
It’s a quirky enough romantic comedy that’s fairly infectious because of Johnny Depp. DeMarco is at this point just another quirky character in a long line of them from Depp, of course, but there’s something intriguing about DeMarco. Depp is able to take plenty of lines of dialogue that would seem silly from other actors and give them a weird beauty. This may not be a brilliant performance, or one that’s particularly memorable, but it’s one that wouldn’t seem out of place on his acting reel. It’s one to be discovered when looking back at his late boom as a bankable star as something off the beaten path; only Depp could deliver such cheeky dialogue and not seem silly for doing so.
In the end scheme of things, Johnny Depp’s career probably won’t settle on Don Juan DeMarco as a marker of anything but another in a line of quirky film roles.
You can isolate the film’s score and the music video for “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” by Bryan Adams are included as extras.
Don Juan DeMarco may be another film where Marlon Brando traded on his legacy for another paycheck, but it ought to be remembered for Johnny Depp’s mercurial performance.
New Line Cinema presents Don Juan DeMarco. Written and Directed by Jeremy Leven based off his short story “Don Juan DeMarco and the Centerfold.” Starring Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway. Running time:97 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on Blu-ray: April 10, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando