Monday, March 14, 2016

Be The Flame, Not The Moth

Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Cast: Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Oliver Platt, Lena Olin, Natalie Dormer, Charlie Cox
Released: December 25, 2005
Viewed in theaters: January 12, 2006

This movie had a bit of an unfair advantage when it was released because it came out around the same time as Brokeback Mountain and that was the movie Heath Ledger was (rightfully) getting all the attention for. I saw Brokeback Mountain two days before I saw Casanova and the former is so, so, so, so good and the latter is....not so good. It's an enjoyable little film in its own right and it's probably unfair to compare it to Brokeback Mountain just because they both star Heath Ledger and came out around the same time. So I'll compare it to some of Lasse Hallstrom's other works and say I didn't like it as much as I liked Chocolat, The Cider House Rules, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, or Hachi: A Dog's Tale. The problem with Casanova is that it has no substance. First and foremost, this movie is pure eye candy: the setting (the film is shot and takes place in Venice and it definitely makes you want to visit the historical Italian city); the costumes (SO gorgeous!); the location they used for the Bruni's home (I loved the pink walls of their living room); and the classical music (ear candy?) And the casting director must have had a daughter who was a teenager circa 1999-2001 because if you asked any high school or college aged girl around that time who her Hollywood crush was, I'm willing to bet nine times out of ten she would say Heath Ledger. (Every tenth girl would probably say Freddie Prinze Jr. (blah!!)) In fact, if you go back and read my review of Ten Things I Hate About You, you can read about my experience when I watched it when I was in college with a bunch of other girls for our dorm's movie night. Good times, good times. So what I'm saying is that Heath was a good choice to play Casanova, however I am surprised he took the role because he liked to challenge himself and wanted to get away from just being another pretty face. This role for him seemed pretty simple and didn't really require any heavy lifting, so to say, on his part. I'm sure a big incentive for him to take the role was because it was filmed in Venice! 

Of course since this movie is about the famous lover (or manwhore, whatever you want to call him!), Giacomo Casanova, then you need the strong, beautiful, feminist woman who is against everything Casanova stands for. This is Francesca Bruni who is played by Siena Miller. Francesca is a big advocate for women's rights and writes books about feminism under a male pseudonym. She is engaged to be married to a man named Paprizzio (Oliver Platt) who she has never met. Her mother (Lena Olin) wants her daughter to marry him because he is rich. Francesca is about the only woman in Venice who doesn't fall for Casanova's charms, so of course he ends up falling in love with her. He knows she is to be married to a man named Paprizzio and reveals himself as her fiance. 

Young Margaery Tyrell
While it's pretty predictable how the movie will end, there's many cases of mistaken identity, especially with Casanova pretending to be Francesca's betrothed. Meanwhile, as himself, he's engaged to the beautiful, young blonde virgin who Francesca's brother, Giovanni (Charlie Cox) is in love with. This was my third time watching Casanova, but the first time that Victoria, the young blonde virginm looked familiar to me. I looked her up and she is played by Natalie Dormer aka Margaery on Game of Thrones. The last time I saw Casanova was in 2009 and Game of Thrones didn't premier until 2011 (although I only just watched the first four seasons of it last fall). 

There's a funny/amusing scene where Casanova's at Carnivale and he comes across Francesca's mother and Victoria's father, and of course, they both think he's marrying their own daughter so he has to be careful of the conversation and keep it ambiguous. He does confess his true identity to Francesca and she becomes angry with him because she could never love a man like him, but of course she does still love him (and meanwhile the real Paprizzio has ended up with her mother...though he was a bit older than Francesca!) 

Jeremy Irons plays Pucci, someone who has a lot of authority around that time in Venice and arrests Casanova because he has taken the blame for writing the illegal books that Francesca wrote. (This was when she knew she was in love with him). However, she confesses she wrote the books so both she and Casanova are set to be hung. Since his true identify was revealed, he is sentenced to death for his promiscuity. But his mother and stepfather come to the rescue when his stepfather pretends to be the Cardinal and reveals that since it's the Pope's birthday, he has granted a pardon to all people sentenced to death on that day. While Casanova is escaping with his parents, Franesca, her mother, Paprizzio (who is helping them escape on his large boat), Giovnni, and Victoria (yes, it does get a little muddled with all those characters!), the real Cardinal arrives and Pucci and his men try to chase after all of them. In the end, Giovanni decides to stay back and be Casanova so the real Casanova can escape with the woman he truly loves and spend the rest of his life with her, awww. And even though Giovanni did marry Victoria, the girl he's been in love with for so many years, he continues on Casanova's legacy and sleeps with many other women...even though he's married to the love of his life! What a jerk!!! But I guess he has to keep up his reputation for being the famous manwhore. 

Lasse Hallstrom said the movie had an R rating because of the under the table, uh, fellatio scene, even though you don't actually see anything beside the table being knocked around. I saw The Ugly Truth a few months ago and there's a scene where Katherine Heigl is wearing these panties with a vibrator that is controlled by a remote control and while she's out to dinner with a bunch of people, a kid gets his hands on the remote and starts pushing the buttons (don't ask!) and that scene was a lot more obvious that something was going on with her and a lot more raunchy! The sex scenes in this movie make the sex scenes in Game of Thrones look triple X rated! While you know what's going on, there's no nudity and every thing is strategically covered. If anything, Casanova should have received a PG-13 rating or they should have just gone all out if they had already gotten an R rating with that one scene.

While a very visually stunning movie, it is very forgetful. 

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