I am not your Casanova

Me and Romeo ain’t never been friends.

Remember that song? It was from the late 80′s and it was by some shitty Bel Biv Devoe-type group. I’ve had it stuck in my head before, during, and since I saw Casanova on Saturday. I hope someone else remembers it, because I need to spread the pain around.

Anyway, saw Casanova after a nice lunch with Haley and Mr. Spores. It was, I hate to say it, a “cute” movie. But I don’t mean that in a bad way. It really reminded me of any given Shakespeare comedy…it had unrequited love, gender switching, mistaken identities, duelling, you name it. Except funnier. But not by much. Director Lasse Hallstrom intended for Casanova to play as pure farce (or so I keep reading in magazines), but there are only a handful of real laugh-out-loud moments. For the most part the movie just keeps up a steady tone of wry amusement.

Heath Ledger turns in a solid performance as Casanova, and he did look fairly hot at times, and he has a winning smirk, but I just kept thinking that they needed someone better looking. I couldn’t quite buy into throngs of women acting like rabid weasels over Heath. JRM would have fit the bill better. ;) But heath was good, and very charming. Can’t say the same of his co-star Ms. Crayola-Crayon-Name Miller. Granted, I went in expecting to hate her character. (I always hate stock fiesty-proto-feminist-spunky-modern-girls in period films.) Instead, I managed to just be bored by her. She isn’t anything special to look at, and doesn’t have any screen presence. I can see why Jude went for that nanny.

The rest of the cast abundantly makes up for her, though. Lena Olin plays Sienna’s mother, and she is great and also the most gorgeous woman in the film. (Did I mention I adore Lena?) But Casanova doesn’t really pick up and get interesting until Oliver Platt and Jeremy Irons arrive on the scene. Of all the cast, they were the ones who truly seemed to get the whole ‘farce’ concept, and boy did they run with it! Oliver plays Sienna’s fiance, a lard merchant, and has to wear a ton of prop fat. The movie threatens to make him just one long endless (and offensive) fat joke, but Oliver rises above it and makes hsi character both funny and likeable.
Jeremy plays an Inquisitor sent by the pope to bring the big Catholic Smackdown unto licentious Venice, and to round up Casanova for the rack. You can tell he’s enjoying being able to chew the hell out of the scenery, and plays his role in full over-the-top evil-yet-queenish mode (think a Catholic Palpatine.) In other words, he rocked.

Oh, one more thing…Casanova has a neat little twist ending that I can’t give away, but it keeps the movie from having quite the same predictible romantic comedy pattern. Oh, and the shot-on-location Venice scenery is gorgeous. The city is so much a character of the movie, it will save you a trip to Italy. Overall, Casanova is a nice little diversion. Nothing great, but charming, amusing, and lovely to look at. And because of the farce elements, snappy writing, and performance by JI and Platt, it’s a “chick flick” that guys and women-who-hate-chick-flicks (*raises hand*) can still enjoy. By all means, catch a matinee or rent it.

Sunday night, BW and I went out to the local arty cinema to see The Scarlet Empress, starring Marlene Dietrich. It’s part of this month’s series of Pre-Production Code movies of the 30′s…before the censors stepped in, anything went. I wish I could have enjoyed the movie more, but it was directed by Josef Von Sternberg. Now, that man could light the hell out of a movie set, and I often sat gasping in wonder at the beautiful effects he achieved…but DAMN, he couldn’t direct! The movie was long, and plodding, and in desperate need of an editor, and Marlene was empress only for the last 20 minutes. But it sure was beautiful. Gothic, grotesque, surreal sets, Dietrich’s luminous face…I could go on and on…but the story sucked. And all the other actors were pretty bad. Still, it kept me in a nice dark theater with a bunch of other film geeks, safely hidden away from the rampaging Steeler-Tards. Worth the admission right there.

5 Responses to “I am not your Casanova”

  1. LOUP Says:

    Now along with a migraine I have that Levert (yeah I know who sung it!!) song dancing about my brain … lovely.

  2. whistler Says:

    AaAAH that song is stuck in my head!

  3. Haley Says:

    heh-she said ‘steeler-tards’…Anyway. oooh you ARE a film geek. heh you actually know of the Pre-Production Code heh sweet.

  4. Marci Says:

    OK, so this doesn’t sound like a “steer clear of this one” review, at least. I’ve wanted to see this since I melted into my seat over the preview. The way he delivered the line, “She was hardly a novice”, killed me.

  5. lincoln Says:

    i am nacho casanova!

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