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Casanova - Review

Heath Ledger in Casanova

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Creating An Adventure Behind The Scenes Look At The Casanova Set And Interviews With The Cast And Crew; Dressing In Style; Extended Sequence Hidden In Plain Sight; Visions Of Venice; Director Audio Commentary; Audio Described.

HAVING impressed immeasurably with his sensitive turn in Brokeback Mountain, Heath Ledger now disappoints massively as the legendary lover Giacomo Casanova in this limp romantic comedy.

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom (of The Cider House Rules/Chocolat fame), Casanova turns one of the sexiest characters in history into someone more befitting a Benny Hill sketch.

Restricted by a 12A certificate, the film lacks the raunchiness one would expect from the subject, or the sophsticated charm that might have proved its saving grace.

Set in Venice, Hallstrom’s movie follows the fortunes of Ledger’s Casanova as he seeks to woo feisty, independent virgin, Francesca Bruni (Sienna Miller), while eluding Italy’s puritanical Inquisitors (led by Jeremy Irons’ sneering villain).

In doing so, he must also outwit Francesca’s scheming mother (Lena Olin) as well as her overweight fiance (Oliver Platt), while schooling another admirer in the ways of love.

Sadly, while the stage seems set for an amusing romantic romp, the reality plays out in almost pantomime fashion with very little to endear it to audiences.

The humour, in particular, is riddled with juvenile double entendres, while the cartoonish villains are over-prone to reacting to situations with arched eyebrows in a vain effort to accentuate the naughtiness.

Not that there is much that is risqué about the proceedings given the sheer lack of sex on display – for this Casanova seems positively virginal by comparison to previous incarnations (most notably David Tennant’s excellent BBC interpretation).

Even more alarming is Hallstrom’s use of Venice, one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world, which here looks more computer-generated than most science fiction movies.

Performance-wise, none of the cast is given much to work with while the central romance between Ledger and Miller is almost forgotten halfway through when the latter disappears for long periods of time with no real explanation.

The ensuing hotbed of lust and inquisition feels rather tepid and will probably fail to arouse anything other than derision from those who venture out to see it.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 1hr 52mins