Saturday, February 11, 2006


Hollywood has depicted many legendary lovers in one way or another, from Don Juan to Valentino, and this time, Venetian playboy Casanova gets the big screen treatment in the form of Hollywood "It" boy Heath Ledger playing the title role, with much aplomb.

Hollywood's Casanova, set in the 18th Century, isn't a very serious film, taking its cues from 90s styled period productions like The Three Muskateers (which also starred Oliver Platt) and Man in the Iron Mask (with ex-Hollywood "It" boy Leonardo DiCaprio). Casanova, as we learn, lacks mama's love, as he gets abandoned while she sets off with her unseen lover, but not before she vowed to return, and therefore bringing to our attention that his view of love is probably screwed to begin with.

He sees women as conquests, and if Geishas can stop a man in his tracks with just one look, Casanova can bed thousands of women with his sweet nothings, and I mean nothings. Becoming the god of fornication brings about infamy to his name, until he has to salvage it by settling down with the right women, or face the church's wrath.

While setting his sights on probably the last virgin in Venice (yes, the image of Virgin Mary did come on screen), he's also attracted by the strong willed Francesca Bruni (Sienna Miller), in a role that personifies feminism. She cross-dresses as a man to get to educational institutions, writes under a pseudonym to express her thoughts on the modern woman, and holds on to the notion on one true love. Alas, she's engaged to a pork lard merchant from Genoa, Paprizzio (Oliver Platt), whose family wealth is much needed to the Bruni family.

There are countless of cheese that added plenty of camp to the characters, and stretched was the notion of mistaken identities like a grand Venetian Masquerade, as Casanova schemes his way to get past the Church and women to get to his prize - Franscesca. Certain scenes seemed implausible, like American Pie styled antics in the grand ball, as we see Casanova wriggle his way out of tight situations he puts himself in.

But the Catholic Church perhaps got the most flak, like the depiction of horny nuns, dim-witted investigators (Jeremy Irons sleepwalking through his role as an Inspector Closeau clone), and having strange powers like the restoration of a woman's virginity. Corruption too prevails, as the Papal Office seemed eager to strike shady deals in order to further its cause.

The movie has its moments, but not enough to carry the entire movie through. It stuck to safe predictable formula to entertain, and offers nothing much in its censored version shown here. Good probably for a boring weekend, and if you want to check Heath out to compare with his role in the other Oscar heavyweight movie.

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