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"Casanova" is a delightful comic farce that uses a period setting for
an amusing cross between "The Princess Bride," "Much Ado About Nothing"
and the spirit of "The Marriage of Figaro" (not at all "Don Giovanni"
that is based on the same legend).
Director Lasse Hallström gets the romantic romp tone right here, compared to what he did not achieve in "Chocolat." He establishes from the opening that this is just fun opera buffo, with frequent sight gags and commedia dell'arte troupes and Punch and Judy-type puppet shows broadly commenting on the action, though it took four writers to stitch together the broad double entendres and winks at Shakespeare, from, appropriately, "Merchant of Venice", to "The Merry Wives of Windsor" to "Taming of the Shrew."
Heath Ledger has grown up since he first demonstrated he had the light touch for romantic comedy in the teen version of "Shrew," "10 Things I Hate About You," and he's much more confident now. One of the cute conceits of the film is that the women are the aggressors, especially the virgins and novices. As the title character, he modestly claims that his success is solely due to his ability to submit. While he's not particularly leonine in the frequent shots of him lounging on a divan, he is dashing as he runs around Venice taking on several different mistaken identities. If his clinch with Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brokeback Mountain" wouldn't already qualify him for an MTV Best Kiss this year, the big one with Sienna Miller could earn a nomination.
Miller is a bit young for her role as a Portia-like "transvestite" philosopher defending the rights of women, but her youth makes her brash earnestness seem more charmingly naïve. As her lively mother, Lena Olin provides the older woman ballast, without the usual sex-starved widow stereotypes.
Oliver Platt should be signed immediately to do a major production of "Falstaff," as he deftly and physically plays that character type, here a lard mogul representative of mercantile Genoa, even more deliciously and sympathetically than he has in "Ice Harvest" and "Huff."
Jeremy Irons has fun playing the Inquisitor, representing religious Rome, whose purple robes fit right in at a carnivale masquerade ball.
The look of the film helps enormously, with the best use of Venice as a sensuously unique setting since "Dangerous Beauty," not just for the usual gondolas and canals, but the steps, plazas, architecture, roofs, narrow streets, alleys and the light. The wigs and costumes are wonderfully colorful.
The marvelous stitching together of Baroque music keeps the mood merry, with overtures and dances from eight Jean-Philippe Rameau operas, six Italian composers, including of course Vivaldi, as well as snatches of Handel and Telemann added at appropriate water and fireworks moments.
I read here that in the USA this film got an R rating, not PG-13, as ¨director Hallström wanted, only because of something that is suggested is happening under a table. In the Netherlands, where it had it's premiere yesterday, the rating is for over 5 year olds, so that says enough for whom this movie really is. I was at first a little disappointed to find out that this is not a historical movie, but a slapstick comedy, but I loved the settings (Venice and Vicenza,where they made a scene in the famous Teatro Olimpico, which is supposed to be a Venice University in the movie) and the music which is mostly baroque (Vivaldi, Albinoni, Händel, Rameau, Paisiello and a few more) and as a baroque music lover I thoroughly enjoyed the movie just only for the music alone. This must be one of the first-ever costume farce movies, but if you forget all the movies like Shakespeare in love or Pride and Prejudice and take this movie for it's own merits, it is a thoroughly rewarding experience. There was a lot of laughing by the audience and I found myself laughing more than in any movie I remember. It is thoroughly entertaining from first to last minute, but devout Catholics will find it insulting, as it makes fun of the Catholic Church, but it should be quite evident to everyone, also devout catholics, that the story is not to be taken too seriously, so why being bothered by it? The movie can actually be considered as a modern version of an opera buffa. Obviously there is a romantic plot and by all the farce and hilariousness I would say that the romantic element gets snowed under, but, as said, you have to accept this movie for what it is and concentrate on the lavish settings, costumes, music, the fun, and you will want to see it many more times, like me.
CASANOVA is a delightful comedy and farce with a tremendous cast of
very talented actors. Heath Ledger is a wonderful and witty CASANOVA,
Sienna Miller delivers a delicious performance, and Jeremy Irons,
Oliver Platt and Lena Olin all add to the humorous plot and story. This
film is fun to watch and see the romp through Venice as CASANOVA jumps
from one roof top to another in a very beautifully photographed film.
Lasse Hallstrom has directed a film which showcases the beauty of Venice in a romantic comedy that has beautiful sets and costumes. The ride in the hot air balloon is a cinematic moment which captures the adventures of CASANOVA and his attempt to woo the woman he really loves.
The dialog, pace of the film and the colorful ending makes CASANOVA a story worth watching and with a cast that is simply out of this world. And Heath Ledger and Sienna Miller provide CASANOVA with just the right amount of romance and adventure. Bravo, CASANOVA.
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.
This movie was an excellent movie. I came into the theater expecting a
good movie, and left the theater with my expectations having been
It was funnier than I thought; but the humor was not all that made this movie excellent. Heath Ledger played the lady-charmer Casanova wonderfully, showing insight into why so many women would fall for this man, and how he escaped being caught before.
This movie is rated R, but with barely any reason for it - don't feel unable to bring your preteens to this film, because there is no nudity, only hints of sex scenes, and really, that is not the focus of this film. This film focuses on a man who had a superficial idea of love, and how he discovers what true love is - and the adventures and trials he goes through in the discovery.
All the actors did a great job in this movie, in my opinion. The costumes are lovely, the scenery lavish Venice, and the dialog so enchanting, the movie would not have been at all as delightful without such witty dialog.
There is suspense in this movie as, again and again, you think that Casanova will be caught in his tricks, and wonder at his ability to not be caught. The chase scenes are original, the epiphanies and romance grin-inducing, and the ending is absolutely superb.
Go to this movie if you are not a historical nitpick and simply want to have a good time seeing a good movie. It's a fun one!
If you approach this film looking for history or biography, you will be
disappointed. This film is a superbly written farce, enacted by a
talented cast of comic actors. The interesting set-up of false
identities is further complicated by the addition of two
scene-stealers, Oliver Platt and Jeremy Irons. One of the most
entertaining scenes in the film is a comic bit involving Oliver Platt
as he proudly displays his portrait. Oliver Platt is able to elicit a
huge laugh without saying a word and using any broad gesture--just a
kind of comic deflation.
And Jeremy Irons as the Grand Inquisitor was equally delightful, as he investigates heresy with the determination and insight of an Inspector Clouseau.
The action (and comedy) moves briskly, and appropriately for a farce, there is a come-from-nowhere ending that is as unbelievable as it is hilarious. But the ending does not disappoint, at all.
This film contains no apparent "theme" or "message", for which we can all be thankful. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Monday December 5, 7:00pm Pacific Place 11, Seattle
Lasse Hallström successfully merges the decay and decadence of baroque Venice with MTV in his latest film Casanova. Exquisite locations, beautiful photography and Vivaldi on an endless loop are combined with the Farrelly Brothers brand of infantile sexual humor to bring the viewer a mind numbing one hundred eight minutes of something that is a combination of bad Masterpiece Theater and super-classy spaghetti sauce commercial. There is not the slightest hint of any real depth or eroticism in the entire film. A thoughtful and intelligent script includes gems like; "It's a man and you're a whore." "I'm an actress." "What's the difference?" and "Heresy is what ever I say it is!" Heath Leger's performance in the 2002 remake of Four Feathers proved he can act. He is little more than an underwear model in this film. Hallström has directed several quality films. This is not one of them. Casanova is a dismal, two-dimensional teen exploitation film dressed up in the most beautiful location on earth with an enormous budget. What a horrific waste.
This comment was originally posted December 6, 2005 and was deleted following a violation complaint filed by another user. It is sarcastic but is in no way spiteful. No profanity or obscene language is used and no personal information is mentioned. It does not violate IMDb comment guidelines to the best of my understanding and I welcome specific feedback to the contrary. It is an honest assessment of a truly awful movie and my personal opinion.
I just saw Casanova. I read most of the comments here before I went to see it and honestly I was on my way to give up on it. I had fun. I laughed and enjoyed it. One thing though: this is a comedy. If you are in search or a historical, accurate description of the famous Casanova then you are on the wrong path. Some people here said Jeremy Irons was... over-acting? Come on.. give him the merit he deserves as a great actor that he is. He was enjoying his role. I could almost see him laughing on the set after the director shouts out Cut! The only dramatic moment towards the end of the movie seemed to be there just to reinforce the comedy picture after it. Sienna Miller seemed a bit uneasy to me at the beginning with the speech in the University.. I loved the costumes and the settings. It definitely makes you think of buying a ticket to Venice. (Again!) Sensual? 10% Love story? 40% Comedy? The rest. So I say, if you are in the mood for something light, give it a chance and laugh :) And let us agree to disagree, shall we?
I saw the film earlier this week with friends at a preview. Surprisingly there was not a large crowd. However, that was not the only surprise. The film itself was a surprise. Heath Ledger, not as handsome as usual, was lots of fun, however, as Casanova. Oliver Platt takes some physical risks in this role - if you consider partial nudity a risk for a man Platt's size and shape. All of my friends enjoyed the film. I wasn't expecting the film to be such a romp! It was very successful at being funny! I attribute to Verdi's Don Giovanni. There is even the comic relief of the side kick, Leperello. The plot has a few surprises, and everyone in the film has a good time, except for maybe Jeremy Irons. Lots of fun!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The life of Giacomo Casanova has been chronicled before. This new take
on the rake from Venice is best to enjoy when no comparisons with the
real Casanova are made because this is clearly a comedy that has
nothing to do with that man who was considered the best lover of all
Lasse Hallstrom has directed a film with great sense of visual style. What seems to work best is the screen play by Jeffrey Hatcher and Kimberly Simi. We are taken to Venice at the time of the Inquisition, but this movie, being a comedy, has nothing to do with the terror it caused on heretics and sinners.
Casanova, who has had his share of women is intrigued by the lovely, and intelligent, Francesca Bruni, a young lady of not great wealth who wants to be a writer to be reckoned with. Francesca loves to disguise herself as man who is a scholar in order to participate in all things where she is not welcomed. Casanova discovers her secret and he casts his net in order to snare the beautiful Francesca.
Things get complicated because Casanova has asked the hand of the blonde beauty, Victoria, the daughter of Donato, a wealthy Venetian. To complicate things, Giovanni, Francesca's brother lusts after the beautiful Victoria from his window, across the street. To make matters worst, Francesca has a fiancé who is coming into town for the winter carnival. Paprizzio, the king of lard making in Italy, is a rotund figure to boot. Since Casanova gets to him as he arrives, he starts his own plan in disguising himself as Paprizzio, in order to get to Francesca, who detests Casanova.
When the man in charge of the Inquisition, Pucci, arrives in Venice, he makes it his priority to get Casanova, who is too clever to get himself caught by the cardinal. Later, though, when everything is revealed, Casanova redeems himself for taking the blame for having written the books that Pucci has deemed to be a heresy. At all ends well in a turn of events that save Casanova and Francesca from a sure death.
Granted, Heath Ledger doesn't make us believe he is the great lover Casanova, but when we accept his pranks and schemes, we don't mind he is not that Venetian rogue of history. Part of the blame seems to be that physically, Mr. Ledger appears to be too young for the part. He does a good job under the director's orders. Sienna Miller makes a good contribution as Francesca Bruni.
The surprise of "Casanova" is Oliver Platt. His take on the vain fat man, Paprizzio, is one of the funniest roles he has played on the screen in quite some time. Jeremy Irons is also excellent as Pucci, the evil man that sees heresy and sin everywhere. Natalie Dormer and Charlie Cox do also good work as Victoria and Giovanni. Omid Djalili is fun to watch as Lupo, Casanova's loyal servant.
"Casanova" has a great musical score by Alexander Desplat who interlaced some of the beautiful music of the period with his own and it's a joy to hear it in the background. Oliver Stapleton's cinematography does wonders in creating the illusion of the Venice of the period. Jenny Beavan's costumes reflect the era in which the action takes place.
While "Casanova" has not found the audience it deserves. That was clear from a recent viewing. Lasse Hallstrom deserves better.
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