Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: Theatrical 1/6/06, available on DVD 4/25/06
Stars: Heath Ledger, Oliver Platt, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
MPAA Rating: R
Reason for Rating: For some sexual content
Runtime: 1 hour 51 minutes
The legendary tale of the great lover Giacomo Casanova is retold in historic Venice. Casanova (Heath Ledger), friend and confidante of the Prince, seduces women in every arena not discriminating for lot, creed, hair color, or stayed by angry husbands, fathers or even the cloth as he seduces would be nuns as well.
Casanova starts his life as a child waiting for his hot blooded mother to return to Venice as she promises. Casanova’s dazzling good looks and prophetic pillow talk makes prey out of women who willingly become a “notch” on his bedpost. Complaints from disgruntled parents and husbands make Casanova a target of the ever powerful Catholic Church. This unwanted attention forces the Prince to order him to marry by Carnivale. He proposes to a local virgin and realizes he has made a mistake when he meets a local female scholar (Sienna Miller).
The grand inquisitor (Jeremy Irons) comes to Venice to arrest him and bring innocence and purity back under the church’s control. A wily and witty character, Casanova evades capture by impersonating several different people, whilst attempting to woo the object of his dreams. However, the blanket of deceit is pulled back and all is uncovered, leaving only the truth of love to defend him at his trial.
I had high hopes for this movie as the costumes and locations looked quite impressive, not to put aside the fact that the memoirs of Giacomo Casanova are legendary and colorful, albeit unreliable, but a character impossible not to like. However, I must say the Ledger made Casanova into a selfish dim wit. The charisma was nowhere to be found and the legendary attractiveness was empty and hollow. I was also confused as to why everyone in Venice spoke with an English accent. “Senorita” spoken with a high lilting Yorkshire?
I thought that perhaps the writing had buried this film alone, but the performances must share the burden. All save one, when Oliver Platt steps onto the screen as the lard merchant from Genoa, everything he said had me practically laughing out loud. His mastery of the dry funny man is most impressive and I was glad that he made something out of this mess of a movie. His deliveries were flawless and his character’s shyness most sincere. He saves this movie from being a total loss and it was worth the misery of watching just to observe his work. The coincidental ending and lack of a real plot land this movie in medieval Casanova hell and I applaud the Church for trying to hang him.
Hit or No Hit: Coach Mike says this movie strikes out swinging.