A poet falls in love with an art student who gravitates to his bohemian lifestyle -- and his love of heroin. Hooked as much on one another as they are on the drug, their relationship alternates between states of oblivion, self-destruction, and despair.
Casanova is in love with Francesca, who thinks he is a friend of himself even though he is engaged to Victoria, who is the love of Giovanni, Francesca's brother. Francesca is betrothed to Paprizzio who thinks Casanova is the feminist writer Guardi, who is really Francessca's nomme de plume. Amidst all these secret identities and misunderstandings, the Catholic Church sends Pucci to bring Casanova and Guardi to trial for heresy. Written by
I haven't had this good a time at the movies since since--oh, heck, I can't remember when I've had this good of a time at the movies! This film opens with a touching surprise, ends with a glorious twist and is filled in between with intrigue, passion and some of the most beautiful scenery ever put to screen. Oh, and did I mention humor -- ranging from witty inside jokes to bawdy physical comedy.
The screenplay walks a thin line between complexity and confusion, but director Lasse Hallstrom never loses sight of the difference and is able to wring subtleties out of what could have been an overly broad farce.
The story focuses on one aspect of Lord Jacomo Casanova's lavish life, his reputation as a great seducer of women. Lots of women. Caught one too many times in the act with the wrong woman, Casanova is told he must either leave Venice, which he is loathe to do, or marry a woman of good character. He is soon betrothed to one of the few remaining virgins in Venice, but just as quickly falls for Francesca Bruni, an auburn-haired feminist who wouldn't give Casanova the time of day. So, to win her affections, he proceeds to become several other people, using false names to reveal his true feelings.
Heath Ledger has no trouble living in Casanova's skin, although for the first 20 minutes it was hard to see Casanova and not Heath Ledger in a rather large wig. However, I blame that on my having seen too many "behind-the-scenes" specials, and not on Ledger's performance. By the time he meets Francesca, played by Sienna Miller, I had settled into the story and never gave the wig another thought. Although there was not as obvious a chemistry between Ledger and Miller as he has had with other female co-stars, most notably Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You) and Kate Hudson (The Four Feathers), I was quite convinced of their undying love for one another by film's end.
The supporting cast is marvelous, especially Omid Djalili who plays Lupo, Casanova's manservant, and Oliver Platt, who plays Genoan lard merchant, Lord Papprizzio, Francesca's fiancé. Lena Olin, as Francesca's mother, and Jeremy Irons, as Bishop Pucci, the Inquisitor, give fine performances as well, rising above their less-than-three-dimensional characters. Irons and Platt have an especially hilarious scene in, of all places, an Inquisition torture chamber, which is only outdone by Platt's bravery in revealing his true size while lying half-naked covered in lard, mint jelly and coffee grounds.
I had a blast at this movie and I can't wait to see it again.
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