NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Beth who says..."The Libertine- Based on the life of the Earl of Rochester in London, late 1600s. This movie was much more sexual than advertized."

The Movie opens with text on a plain screen explaining that the Kings monarch started with general merriment, alcohol, sex, etc., but then came war, political unrest and economic difficulties.  The King looked to a friend to help him... then begins a well spoken, face visible only monologue by the Earl of Rochester (Johnny Depp) saying "you won't like me" and explaining his sexual prowress. 

Jump to a scene of the King (John Malcovich) and his advisors walking in a field discussing all the current problems, one of which is the Earl, a semi-friend of the Kings', who was banished for one year, 3 months ago.  It is decided that he can now return to London.  Jump to the Earl in a country estate, his wife saying the she doesn't want to go back to London, his mother telling him to treat his wife well, and the Earl being flippant and sexual to his mother.  Then he and his wife ride away in a coach where she tells the story of how he abducted her when she was 18 and then fell for him, and while she tells this story, he has his hand in her crotch, obviously busy, and she has an orgasm. 

In London he meets with friends in a bar and discusses why he was banished- for writing a dirty poem about the monarch and sharing it with guests of the state.  One of his friends is writing a play about the Earl, and the Earl mocks him. It is obvious that the Earl has a lot of sex with a lot of women, for the enjoyment of sex.  They all go to the theatre where a new actress is doing a terrible job.  The Earl takes to her, and gets her to be "unfired" after the show, if she agrees to be trained by him.  She is resistant, then agrees.  Over time he trains her to be a wonderful actress, everyone loves her and she shows how she is independent and wants nothing form the Earl. 

One evening he is shown drunk, having a prostitute give him a blowjob and he is ranting about something.  After a bit  she says "I don't think this is working" (meaning he can't get it up) and she tells him that he is in love with the actress, she can tell. He realizes that he does love the actress and he ends up sleeping together, a scene in which both sex and  cuddling are shown.

Meanwhile, the Earl begins to have trouble in his marriage, and while the Earl and his wife and posing for a portrait, he says that he would rather pose with a monkey that is dancing outside the window.  His wife says she knows of the affair and doesn't mind, but cannot stand being made a fool of, and is going back to the country. 

The King is in trouble, a war could begin with France, and asks the earl to speak for him in the House of Lords, since people listen to him.  The earl says no.  The King then later asks for a wonderful, magnificent, world-changing play to impress the French ambassador, and the Earl is forced to agree by blackmail.  The play is very sexual. A character is "Little Clitoris" and there is a monologue about a dildo, and real sex to be performed on stage.   The Earl explains that this is for the French and "public fornication with strangers is mandatory in Paris."

The play itself is something to be seen.  There are nimph-like women dancing with huge wooden poles, making thrusting motions towards there crotches, a dwarf riding on horse-sized penis replica pulled by men in S&M outfits, etc.  The French ambassador is amused, the King seems miffed and uncomfortable.  Then the Earl comes out, obviously dressed as the King, surrounded by fawning women, and makes a speech about sex and a monarchy, and how nasty and lazy it is.  The French ambassador says that a man would be killed in France for this, so the English King is forced to do something  He goes on stage, asks if any particular monarchy is being depicted, the earl says no, just any, the King doesn't believe it, stops the play, there is general ruckass and the Earl escapes. 

The King puts forth much effort to find the Earl, especially after he is involved in the deaths of a police officer and a young man during his escape.  A coach is seen hurriedly racing to the Earl's wife's country residence, she runs down to open the door and greet the Earl, having heard about the play, and funds only a painting of the earl and a monkey.

The Earl writes to his actress during his away time and gets no response.    

It is hinted at that the earl is sick, maybe with the pox. Later the Earl is found in a small town selling a snake oil with his friends.  The King comes and says that this is the first time he has thought of the Earl since the play.  They take off the mask the Earl is wearing and he is disfigured.  The King says he will not think of him again, and why did he throw it all away. 

The earl goes to London to visit the actress.  His friends tell him that he had some talent but could never finish- he had to push everything and ruin it.  The play about the earl is being performed, and the Earl is hurt by how he is portrayed.  He goes to visit the actress he trained and his face is more disfigured, he is using a cane.  He tells her that he wanted her as his wife, to have his kids.  She says that she is a star on her own, never wanted to be his wife and had his child last summer, a daughter named Elizabeth (also the Earl's wife's name.)  He is crushed by this and leaves, returning to his wife's estate. 

At the country estate, he drinks constantly and it is killing him, along with the disease that has disfigured him.  His wife fights him on it and makes him quit.  He does but grows more ill, is in bed, more disfigured, and little can be done.  It is obvious that he is dying from the disease he has.  He has an epiphany and realizes that he has talent, can do a good show and can do good for the world.  He has heard that the monarchy will be stopped, that Parliament is ending the rein of the current monarchy's bloodline and will choose the next King, rather than having the King's brother secede him.  The Earl shows up at the House of Lords during the final voting on this and it looks bad for the King.  The Earl is very disfigured with his whole face painted white to hide it, and is using two canes.  He makes a moving speech about the rights of men, that each must be tried for his own wrong doings, let the new King come and then be tried.  After the Earl leaves, the King runs after him and says "You finally did it, you finally did something good for me" to which the Earl replies, "I didn't do it for you, I did it for me."  The King's advisor then tells the King that he has won the vote, the monarchy will remain.

The last scene has the Earl back in bed with his wife at his side, obviously she still loves him and is lying in bed with him. He is very sick, dying from tertiary syphilis (type of syphilis that comes on years after untreated syphillis).  He asks his wife to tell him of abduction, and she begins the same story, told the same way, as in the coach at the beginning of the movie.  He dies while she tells the story.