Starring Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Oliver Platt, Lena Olin
Written By: Jeffrey Hatcher, Kimberly Simi
Directed By: Lasse Hallstrom
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Buy on Amazon.com link
Back in the day, Casanova was kind of like the Shaft of 18th century Europe a sex machine to all the chicks. The only difference here is that instead of being a bad-ass with a badge and gun, he’s wearing tights and brandishes a sword. And unlike the classic 1970s movie, Casanova is nowhere near as watchable.
Anyways, as the story goes, Casanova (Heath Ledger from Brokeback Mountain, this time he’s not a gay cowboy!) has the ability to make any woman he sees to fall head over heels for him, because, y’know, he’s just that smooth (just ask Jake Gyllenhaal). After so many years of success with the ladies, he grows a bit tired of it all. That is until he finally meets the love of his life except the irony here is that (wait for it… wait for it…) she thinks Casanova is a total tool! Yep, he wants the one he cannot have. The lady he is eying, Francesca (Sienna Miller), is a feminist who would no doubt feel much more welcome during the 20th or 21st centuries, rather than the male-centric 18th century. Not one to give up so easily (or to understand the meaning of the word “no”), Casanova goes on a mission to win her love and affection, through a series of disguises, mistaken identity and a series of pigs (no doubt borrowed from the set of Babe), resulting in a series of comic hijinks which are only funny if you’re a regular viewer of the Lifetime Network or something.
While the costumes and sets are no doubt impressive (the movie is shot entirely in Venice which the special features point out every 5 minutes!) in bringing 18th century Venice to life, the movie itself was lifeless. To be fair, Casanova was a dynamic person (an author, lawyer, magician, spy, diplomat, violinist, etc.) yet we saw so little of this. More or less what we get here is a very by the numbers romantic comedy that just so happens to be set in a time where the costume designers can go nuts and beg for an Oscar nomination in the Costume Design category.
As for the extras, they’re as hastily thrown together as the movie. There’s the standard behind the scenes featurette with the usual self-congratulations and emphasis on how ecstatic they were to shoot the entire movie in Venice (we get it, you didn’t try to pass off Vancouver for Venice). Yawn.
If you like your romantic tales with plenty of elaborate costumes, there’s probably something in it for you (however, a vastly better romance set in the old days would be Dangerous Beauty). Otherwise, you’re better off watching Heath Ledger be a gay cowboy instead.
“Creating An Adventure” – The Making of Casanova
“Dressing In Style” – Designing costumes from the 18th century fashion capital of Europe
Extended Sequence: “Hidden In Plain Sight”
“Visions of Venice” – Recreating the world’s most enchanting city in the 18th century
Audio Commentary with Director Lasse Hallstrom
ENGLISH. Also available in FRENCH and SPANISH language tracks.
Widescreen (2.35:1) Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
French and Spanish
Favorite Scenes: The copious amounts of cleavage from the female stars of the picture. The only thing that kept me from turning it off completely.
Running Time: 111 minutes