© Buena Vista International (Germany) GmbH

U.S.A. 2005

Opening 9 Feb 2006

Directed by: Lasse Hallström
Writing credits: Jeffrey Hatcher, Kimberly Simi, Michael Cristofer
Principal actors: Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Oliver Platt, Lena Olin

This is a delightful and sunny comedy about the nature of love. Set in an idealized 18th century Venice, we are privy to the wooing of Francesca Bruni (Sienna Miller) by none other than Giacomo Casanova (Heath Ledger) himself. This courtship takes the form of the taming of the shrew in that we have a beautiful, intelligent woman being wooed by the greatest lover of all time, who finds himself at a loss as to how to win the heart of a woman who can read his game. It is wonderfully entertaining if a bit cliché – the world’s greatest lover undone by true love. Sienna plays Francesca Bruni very well. She shows us how difficult it is to be a feminist and a hopeless romantic at heart. Jeremy Irons makes a deliciously malevolent papal envoy, and Oliver Platt and Lena Olin are excellent as Sienna’s port lard tycoon Genoese fiancé and her lovely widowed mother, Mme. Bruni, who is trying to save her status by forcing Francesca to marry the lard king. The settings and costumes are elaborate and luscious. A frothy light gilds everything with a levity rarely seen in Venice. I have never seen Venice so clean, figuratively and literally. Gone is the usual venality attributed to Venetians, the havoc wrecked by the Inquisition or the filth of a dirty Grand Canale. In the end, the numerous love stories intersect to give us a reason to flee Venice seconds before the Cardinal charged with Casanova’s arrest arrives. A wonderful film, pure entertainment. Like velvet for the mind. (Rita Pearson Schwandt)

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