Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Casanova

Reviewed by: Joshua Starnes and Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: R

Starring:
Heath Ledger as Casanova
Sienna Miller as Francesca
Natalie Dormer as Victoria
Charlie Cox as Giovanni
Stephen Greif as Donato
Jeremy Irons as Pucci
Ben Moor as Andolini
Oliver Platt as Papprizzio

Special Features:
"Creating an Adventure" Featurette -- 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 Hallström

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
French and Spanish Language Tracks
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 111 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

Heath Ledger, Academy Award® nominee (Best Actor, Brokeback Mountain, 2005), stars in the scandalously funny adventure Casanova. After a lifetime of women falling head over heels in love with him, the world's legendary ladies' man (Ledger) meets the love of his life -- the one woman who thinks he's a total heel. Comic chaos ensues in a hilarious whirl of misadventures, disguises, and mistaken identities as the love-struck Casanova tries to win the heart of the fiery feminist who wants nothing to do with the man she thinks he is.

"Casanova" is rated R for some sexual content.

The Movie:
Casanova (Heath Ledger), the world's greatest lover, is just a step ahead of the Inquisition and finds he must give up his ways and marry. In his quest for a wife, he unexpectedly finds himself falling in love with Francesca (Sienna Miller), a young intellectual who hates everything Casanova stands for.

Director Lasse Hallström's beautifully post-modern romantic fable is a bit too post-modern (what happens when the world's greatest womanizer falls in love with the world's first feminist?), more interested in its premise than the characters involved in it; once you get past the production design and formalized dialogue, it is a standard romantic comedy of errors.

Ledger gets into the swing of things right off the bat and is the most successful at maintaining the films tone - particularly Casanova's difficult mix of slightly effeminate masculinity that is irresistible to women. His is smarmy and seductive and worldly and capable the way Casanova is supposed to be. Everyone else is a bit too broad - Dormer in particular is a bit too strident as Victoria, and Irons, though wonderfully expressive, loses any sense of menace he may have as he is continually embarrassed.

It's an odd mix of lowbrow and highbrow humor, never seeming quite certain what level it wants to work out. It makes for easy laughs, but not quite a strong enough story to hang the moments on to. By the end, Hallström is forced to do quite a bit of juggling and fancy footwork to try and keep the story from bogging down. Everything does eventually come together in a rousing but silly finale that goes on too long.

Like any well-done period piece, the real highlight of the film is the beautiful production and costume design, and "Casanova" is no exception. The production department brings 17th century Venice wonderfully to life. Even when the film's story is falling flat it's a joy to just look at.

The Extras:
Here's what you'll find among the bonus features:

"Creating an Adventure" Featurette -- The Making of Casanova – This is the standard "making of" offering. Besides your usual interviews and behind the scenes footage, you have a lot of talk about the unique challenges of shooting in Venice. From the historical landmarks to the daily rising tides, there were difficulties that had to be worked around to use the beautiful location.

"Dressing in Style" -- Designing Costumes From the 18th Century Fashion Capital of Europe – The title says it all. This is all about the beautiful costumes from the film.

Extended Sequence: "Hidden in Plain Sight" – In this extended sequence, Casanova and Francesca escape shortly after being captured at Carnivale. They hide from the pursuing Inquisitors by taking the place of actors in a street play. Oddly enough, they take over the roles of Casanova and a spurned lover. Needless to say they are quickly recaptured. The scene is better left on the cutting room floor since it doesn't add anything to the story and everything about it is seen in the film elsewhere.

"Visions of Venice" -- Recreating the World's Most Enchanting City in the 18th Century – This comes across as almost an ad for the Venice bureau of tourism. They show some of the architectural highlights of the city and rave about how great it is.

Audio Commentary with Director Lasse Hallström – Too bad the actors don't take part in this commentary. Director Lasse Hallström does his best to provide the commentary, but he doesn't keep the conversation rolling. Most of his discussion is more geared towards the technical aspects of making the movie.

The Bottom Line:
Casanova is an enjoyable bit of fluff, and beautifully designed, but lighter than air and easily forgotten the moment it ends.

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