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This version of 'Casanova' is worlds apart from the one which ran on UK
TV some twenty plus years ago. Now, in 2005, Russell T Davies (in
demand at the moment as the key writer of the new Doctor Who) has
developed a Casanova for our times, with modern phrases and references
(there are National Lottery slogans; Casanova sings 'the wheels on the
carriage' to his young son), while still devoting attention to the
serious aspects of the story.
David Tennant plays the young Casanova, swaggering his way from the Italian peasantry to the faux-aristocracy of France, and to England. He is by turns irritating, sprightly, and sexy, a convincing character study of the most legendary seducer in history. His on-off relationship with the beautiful and mysterious Henriette (Laura Fraser) is central to the story, as she betrays and entices him into dangerous situations. His sexual romps are done very much in 'Carry On' style.
Peter O'Toole is the old Casanova ('an old librarian in a damp castle'), reduced to little more than a servant with his memories. As usual, he is magnificent in a complex role. Funny and charming, but with a painful past. The old Casanova makes you laugh and tugs at your heartstrings too. A - I hope - Bafta-worthy performance.
Other names to watch for in the cast include Nina Sosanya as Bellino, the castrato singer who steals our hero's heart in episode 1; Nickolas Grace as the French Chancellor; Matt Lucas as a perfumed Duke of Villars; Rupert Penry-Jones as the odious Grimani; and Shaun Parkes as Rocco, the observer on the sidelines of the young Casanova's life.
Inventively filmed (repetitions, odd angles, slow motion, extreme close-ups) and with a lively (if silly at times) script, this is an entertaining three hours.
If I were a budding TV writer, I'd change my name to Davies. First
there was Andrew who produced a fascinating and quirky little series
called A Very Peculiar Practice, and the next thing you know he is
writing every single adaptation we see, not infrequently for both rival
terrestrial UK channels at the same time. Now it appears to be the turn
of Russell T., who parlayed his gay sex shockfest Queer As Folk into
Bob and Rose, Doctor Who and now this irreverent and somewhat over the
top examination of the life of the infamous lover, Giacomo Casanova.
It's funny, it's irreverent, it's very fast moving and it keeps you watching. Completely eschewing period-ese language, David Tennant portrays Casanova as a cheeky on-the-up spiv who in the 21st Century might well have put himself forward as a contestant for Big Brother. He is instantly likable. Laura Fraser is very strong as the "lost love" interest, Henriette.
Disappointingly the programme seems to regard Casanova's lovemaking prowess as a minor detail, relegating it in the opening episode to a montage of fully-clothed sex scenes that are little more than snapshots. This sense of holding back was compounded when Casanova ripped his new wife and former fake-Castrato-in-travéstie singer Bellino's dress open so that it gaped for the assembled crowd - but not for the camera! This apparent prudishness seems to go against the spirit of the remainder of the enterprise. Perhaps after the Jerry Springer débacle, the BBC is taking no chances.
Peter O'Toole, as the older Casanova explaining his life story to a girl of formerly high family who has fallen on hard times and is acting as his maidservant, performs his part with all the best elements of his enormous experience, both as an actor, and of his own scarcely stain-free life story. He is so remarkably vigorous, agile and attractive (at 73!), he reminds you why he nearly turned down his Life Achievement Oscar in the hopes, still, of one day "getting a real one".
A worthwhile little production for the fledgling BBC Three, much better than the scanty Alan Clark Diaries.
Russell T Davies and the enthusiastic cast has given this a real feeling of life and excitement using the exterior shots in Venice to their best advantage. David Tennant is brilliantly engaging, funny and attractive playing the 'lad about town' with such confidence and swagger and a touch of vulnerability that it's not difficult to understand why he attracted all his conquests. Casting O'Toole was inspired and at one point with both he and Tennant on screen I was struck by how well they seemed to 'match up' in a way that Ewan Magregor and Alec Guiness (for example) could not. Laura Fraser who I always thought was overlooked in "Knight's Tale" is perfect as the elusive Henriette. I'm looking forward to the rest
After watching bits of "Queer As Folk", a season of the new "Doctor
Who", the "Doctor Who" Christmas special (also listening to the
accompanying commentary) and the three parts of "Casanova", I think
I've figured out what it is that frustrates me about Russell T.
Davies's writing: its inconsistency. If it was merely mediocre, I'd
simply dismiss it as such--but it's not.
His stories do have characters, scenes, and story arcs that are absolutely wonderful; his attention to detail can be minute; his dialogue can be scintillating in its irreverence and vivacity and his plot development can display astonishing originality. But these moments of brilliance are offset by under-developed secondary characters, unconvincing gaps in the plot, frankly ridiculous surprise twists, huge leaps of logic, jarringly crass jokes, lines intended merely to shock and unexplained dialogue non sequiturs. When I watch his work, I find my reactions alternating between, "Wow, this is great!" and "WTF?"
As for "Casanova" specifically: on balance, I love it. It's funny, engaging, exciting, romantic, sexy, and devastatingly sad at the end. It portrays a compellingly sympathetic Casanova and makes me curious about the real historic figure. While I personally already enjoy a lot of "costume dramas", I applaud this production's efforts to bring a younger and hipper audience to the genre. The acting is fine across the board and the leads (David Tennant and Peter O'Toole especially) are excellent. The innovative direction is effective. Since I knew beforehand not to expect historical accuracy, most of the anachronisms didn't bother me.
My chief complaint aside from the Russell T. Davies stuff mentioned above is probably with the music, the quality of which, like the writing, varied widely in my opinion. Some of it was fantastic, to be sure, but a significant amount was irritating and intrusive. And, call it a personal pet peeve if you will, but I really really dislike the sound of synthesized strings and brass. If it's a choice between what are obviously synthesizers and minimal or no instrumental accompaniment, I almost always prefer the latter.
I absolutely LOVED this Casanova creation. So far, only seen the first part of the series yet but I 100% adored it. The acting, in my opinion, was just brilliant - David Tennant creates his own cheeky yet appealing characterisation of young womaniser Casanova and Peter O'Toole - being the amazing thespian he is - is just sensational as the older Giacomo Casanova. The acting, casting and directing of this mini-series is such a thrilling, refreshing change from all the junk on TV and movies nowadays! Back to the pure drama that so often gets lost in the midst of big-headed celebrity-movies, this Shakespearian-influenced mini-series is a MUST SEE! Cant wait for the second part! I give it 10/10!!
I cannot express how wonderful this drama is. I watched it when it was first on BBC 1, and then watched the re-run on BBC 3...i have now just bought the DVD and can watch it over and over again. This dramatic comedy was fantastically written by Russel.T.Davies (Doctor Who) and wonderfully produced and directed. The acting too is superb (and i'm not just saying that because i'm a HUGE David Tennant fan either!). Peter O'Toole as the older Casanova deserves the Oscar he never received, for this role alone! Such emotion, such tension, such comedy, such tragedy...a true British masterpiece. Which brings me on to my favourite subject...David Tennant...could a better Casanova have been cast?? He has the character traits of the legendary Casanova down to a tee, and injects that quick wit and hilarious comic timing like he was born for the role (although check him out as the Doctor!) 11/10 *BIG thumbs up*
Russell T. Davies's "Casanova" is a biopic of the real-life ladies-man
from 17th century Venice, the infamous Giacomo Casanova. The 2-part
series uses the real Giacomo Casanova's biography "The story of my
life" as frame-work. The story is told by Casanova himself (Peter
O'Toole), at the age of 73 when he was employed as a librarian for a
wealthy nobleman. The aged Casanova tells his story to the curious
servant-girl Edith (Rose Byrne) whose father told her tales of Casanova
and all his adventures. David Tennant of 'Doctor Who' fame plays the
young Casanova, and Shaun Parkes his loyal side-kick, Rocco. By 1750
the real Casanova had worked as a clergyman, secretary, soldier, spy,
and violinist and bedded some 122 women. Davies's series touches on
Casanova's talents, but at the heart of the old cad's story is his love
for the one woman he could never have; Henriette (Laura Fraser), who
was engaged to a nobleman in Venice when she and Casanova first meet,
and then the two were torn apart when Casanova was imprisoned in 1775.
After his famous escape in 1756, the story follows Casanova, Rocco and
one of Casanova's many bastard children as they travel around Europe
looking for legal pardon while meeting the greatest men and women of
Russell T. Davies is fast making a name for himself; having written for cult television shows like "Queer as Folk" and the current series of "Doctor Who", "Casanova" is another triumph for Davies. The writing is fresh and witty, and extremely well delivered by the irrevocably charming David Tennant, who passes well for the infamous 17th century cad. The best part of the series is the costumes and sets absolutely over the top and fabulously colorful outfits with modern twists coupled with dazzling, spectacularly lavish sets. It really is a welcome eye-ful.
"Casanova" is an absolutely wonderful 2-part series written by the up and coming Russell T. Davies and starring one of Scotland's best new commodities, David Tennant. Definitely worth a watch.
I was fortunate enough to catch this on television one evening, right
out of the blue.
Normally I don't watch much TV, but this came on following some programme that was playing to itself and it grabbed me almost instantly with its humour.
Being broadcast on Finnish television over two evenings, I was agog to see the second part, for the first half of this one was touching, funny, and so uniquely entertaining - with a brilliant cast to boot!
By the end of the entire thing, I felt a strange sensation within me: INSPIRATION.
Oddly enough, some American-produced film based on the same individual came out not long after, with some daft Australian actor at the helm. That piece was pretty hyped-up and well marketed, being released into cinemas rather than straight to TV.
I've not seen this other "version" and don't intend to ever - I've heard enough about to to know that it couldn't possibly stand up to the challenge of comparison I'd be making whilst watching it.
Read other reviews if you want to get a plot over-view; this article is simply to sing the praises for what was a beautiful, witty and powerful piece of film - recommended viewing for all!
Now: if only it had been THIS film that had the backing of millions of Hollywood cash...
I've read through all the previous comments and there is a puzzling
divergence in the reactions to this work. There are significant numbers
who seem to have expected this to be a documentary drama and have
berated Davies for writing something at odds with the historical
Casanova's life. This is missing the point entirely. It's like
criticising Shakespeare in Love for being "inaccurate." This is a romp,
with a hint of sadness, based upon Giacomo Casanova's
memoir/autobiography. It is obviously intended as a diversion, every
aspect of the production aiming at no more than the spirit of the
thing, mixing today's argot and attitudes with those of C18 Venice.
Russell T Davies's work is of a very particular style, knowing and self-conscious (one critic here seemed to think this was inevitably a bad thing) and, above all, camp and celebratory. If you don't warm to his style then avoid his work is my advice. For those who can accept it for what it is and what it intends, it is glorious stuff.
I turned on PBS last night and ran into this movie completely by accident. I was hooked immediately. It is so funny and unusual. The fact that everything happens to the young Casanova by chance is one of the things that makes it good. He is goofy, low-born, and self-effacing, as opposed to Heath Ledger's smug, overly confident Casanova in the film recently in theaters (which I found very boring.) This CASANOVA is definitely worth my time and yours. The supporting characters are enjoyable and the sets and costumes are amazing, full of color and authenticity. It was a spectacle for the ears and the eyes, I especially liked the colorfest during Casanova and Bellino's ball. Enjoy!
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