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The successful artist and playboy Juan is a notorious seducer of women, through his ability to be just what a woman dreams of: Charming, charismatic, strong, sensitive, sexual. Driven by a restless urge to conquer new women, use them, and throw them away, he has hired his friend Leporello to help create a masterpiece: A filmed database of all the women whose dreams Juan has shattered. We follow Juan and Leporello through 24 compressed hours. Juan seduces the young upper-class girl Anna, but ends up accidentally killing her father, a powerful police commissioner. The two friends run away, but Juan's constant need to seduce new women keeps interrupting their flight. As the police gains in on them, Juan also steals the young bride Zerlina from her groom Masetto, and soon a feverish manhunt is on for Juan. Written by
I am not terribly familiar with Don Giovanni (although I know some of the tunes), which may be part of the reason that "Juan" did not impress me. I'll admit the live voices gave the film an admirable authenticity, and several of the main actors were very good (esp. Juan himself), but besides this I only have criticisms.
Any modern, present-day setting of a classic opera is a huge gamble. It works when the director really knows what he's doing and has the artistic chops to pull it off, but sadly this one doesn't quite. He seems more interested in the modernized staging than in emphasizing the music. And most catastrophically, he introduces profanity into one of the highest human art forms. It then becomes a tasteless pandering to an extremely low common denominator, bordering on reality-TV. Perhaps it is an attempt to attract new audiences, but personally I find it wrongheaded. High art is about beauty and truth, and base profanity belongs in the gutter; it is not worth preserving for posterity in a full-scale original film production. I know many will find my view puritanical, but for me it's a question of beauty over ugliness. Profanity promotes and maintains negative emotions and has no noteworthy redeeming qualities. It certainly does not belong in opera.
Even at 105 minutes, I found this very altered and abridged version long enough to be tiresome, and I have no desire to watch it again.
My rating: 6 stars out of 10.
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