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Casanova (R)

Release Date: December 25th, 2005 (NYC-Village East Cinemas,Clearview Chelsea 9,Loews Lincoln Square, and AMC Empire 25)
January 6th, 2006 (Wide) by Touchtone Pictures.
The Cast: Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Oliver Platt, Omid Djalili, Lena Olin, Charlie Cox, Natalie Dormer, Stephen Greif, Jeremy Irons.
Directed by Lasse Holström.

BASIC PREMISE: After being banished from Vienna for womanizing, Jacomo Casanova (Ledger) must use different disguises when he falls in love with Francesca Bruni (Miller).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: From Lasse Holström, the director of Chocolat , comes this charming and engaging period-piece set during the 18th Century. Heath Ledger has a lot of fun with his role as Casanova. He disguises himself during in his adventure to woo beautiful Francesca, who plays hard-to-get. It turns out that Papprizzio (Platt) will marry her. Oliver Platt gives great comic relief, especially while he’s tied up with green lard smeared all over his fat belly—not a pretty sigh, but the way it’s shot is pretty funny. Soon enough, Casanova disguises himself as Papprizzio to gain Francesca’s respect as well as her mother’s (Olin). Jeremy Irons delivers his lines with conviction and makes for a good villain as Pucci, the inquisitor sent by the Catholic Church to look for Casanova and charge him for his crimes of being a sex-crazed womanizer. Surprisingly, despite the R-rating, there’s only one sex scene with barely any nudity. The costume design looks marvelous along with the wonderful, intricate set designs and the musical score. Casanova moves at a fast pace with full of energy from its talented ensemble cast. The dialogue is full of delicious wit, sarcasm, and dry humor. However, Casanova and Francesca shares too few moments that show their true love for one another. Nonetheless, their romantic relationship becomes somewhat believable after an interesting twist regarding Francesca. Casanova ties everything together in a surprisingly amusing manner without boring you, especially at a running time of only 108 minutes.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: By refusing to take itself too seriously, Casanova fails to make you think about large issues like the Catholic Church’s ban of pre-marital sex or, for that matter, the mixture of Church and State. A courtroom scene in the third act feels unrealistic without much to think about. On top of that, there isn’t a romantic core to truly move you. However, after watching all the delightfully whimsical scenes and characters, you can’t help but be uplifted. The ending, in particular, will put a smile on your face.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: The romance between Casanova and Francesca is too weak and contrived.


THE BOTTOM LINE: A delightfully witty and whimsical period-piece! The talented cast has a lot of fun and so will you!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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