DVD Review: Casanova
By Patrick Luce Apr 24, 2006, 11:54 GMT
Heath Ledger plays the fabled romantic as a man who, after failing to win the affection of a particular Venetian woman, strives to discover the real meaning of love. ...more
“Eternal damnation, for one night with Casanova.”
Casanova is a comedic adventure imagining of the legendary Italian lover. The film does not pretend to be historically accurate, but is a comedy with some bits of swashbuckling thrown in towards the end. However, the settings are very authentic since the movie was shot in Venice.
Giacomo Casanova is an elderly man writing his memoirs and looking back onto his younger self (Heath Ledger). He decides to tell a story that has not been told before - the story of Francesca. Casanova is caught practicing his singular talents in a nunnery and during the long chase by the Inquisition interrupts a lecture in a University. They are arguing the presence of females in the University when the opposing lecturer reveals that she is a woman in disguise - Francesca Bruni (Sienna Miller).
Casanova is rescued from execution by The Doge (Tim McInnerny) but is told that he must take a wife so that the Doge will stop getting heat from the Catholic Church about Casanova’s escapades. Casanova decides to marry the most pious virgin in Venice - Victoria (Natalie Dormer). However, Victoria is worshiped from afar by Giovanni Bruni (Charlie Cox) and he challenges the suitor to a duel - sort of.
Other characters are arriving in Venice, including Francesca’s fiancé lard merchant Paprizzio (Oliver Platt) who she’s never met, and Inquisitor Pucci (Jeremy Irons), who’s never laid eyes on Casanova but is determined to hang him. All this time the mysterious Bernardo Guardi is writing feminist pamphlets and is also on Pucci’s hit list.
Casanova is really an old fashioned comedy with lots of bits of mistaken identity, so during the running time not everyone will know who each truly is. According to director Lasse Hallstrom, this production was the first to be completely shot in Venice in 35 years.
I found Casanova an enjoyable comedy. Heath Ledger, Sierra Miller, and Oliver Platt all perform well. Jeremy Irons must get paid for each pound of scenery he chews in Casanova, but as the villain of the piece this is not unexpected. However, I think that Casanova suffered because it was released after another Heath Ledger movie that was a bit more controversial. This more controversial movie may have cast Heath in a light that some found it difficult to envision him as the historical Casanova.
Casanova is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include the 12 minute documentary entitled “Creating an Adventure – The making of Casanova.” It includes interviews with producer Leslie Holleran, producer Mark Gordon, director Lasse Hallstrom, writer Jeffrey Hatcher, writer Kimberley Simi and actors Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Heath Ledger, and Natalie Dormer. Next is a 5 minute documentary entitled “Dressing in Style” that covers the costume design. It has interviews with costume designer Jenny Beavan, Oliver Platt, and most of the other interviewees in the first documentary.
Next is an extended sequence that runs 5 minutes and called “Hidden in Plain Sight.” It’s a different cut of the chase scene as Casanova and Francesca are pursued by the Inquisition. The final documentary is 4 minutes and called “Visions of Venice.” It is a travelogue of some of the more famous Venice locations used in the film. It has interviews with director Hallstrom, producer Gordon, producer Betsy Beers, and Vincenzon Colombo of the Venice tourist board. Finally there’s an audio commentary with director Lasse Hallstrom.
Casanova is quite a fun romp. Though don’t go into it expecting a historical biopic. Some funny performances abound - especially from Oliver Platt. It is a movie that you can just sit back and enjoy. I know that I enjoyed the film.