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

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 to 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.

It’s an enjoyable bit of fluff, and beautifully designed, but lighter than air and easily forgotten the moment you leave the theater.

“Casanova” is rated R for some sexual content.

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Weekend: Nov. 22, 2018, Nov. 25, 2018

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