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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look44.44%
Average: 26.67%
Pretty Bad: 26.67%
Total Crap: 2.22%

6 reviews, 9 user ratings

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by Scott Weinberg

"Amadeus Meets Neil Simon"
4 stars

Leaning a little extra heavily on the "Shakespeare in Love" button, Lasse Hallstrom's "Casanova" is a slight, silly, and entirely frothy little confection ... but I'd be lying if I said I didn't find some really entertaining stuff littered throughout its weirdness. It's an arthouse farce, played with obvious affection for mistaken identities, temporarily unrequited loves, and a charming little wink at the audience, as if to say ... take none of this too seriously and you'll earn an eyeful of Venice, a handful of laughs, and a predictably sweet finalé.

Starring Heath Ledger as the legendary lothario, Casanova focuses on our hero's court-imposed "maturity" period, a time when he was compelled to stop bedding fair maidens and settle down with a suitable wife ... or be banished from Venice forever. But in a city packed to the canals with feminine perfection, where's Cas going to find #1? Could it be the alabaster virgin from across the way? Or perhaps it's the willful spitfire who fights for female equality?

And, of course, there are the requisite road-blocks and potholes: the alabaster virgin is being pursued by the willful girl's wimpy brother ... and he's trying to help his sister prepare for marriage to a portly sausage tycoon who's due for a visit any day now. And the prince is mad at Casanova, the virgin's dad is casting suspicious glances everywhere, the lardy lord proves to be goofier than previously anticipated -- oh, and here comes the Spanish Inquisition, and they're hungry for our hero's head.

It's all very vibrant and fast-paced and fluffy, which is precisely what one might expect from Lasse Hallstrom, the director of Chocolat, and it's this ebullient sort of eccentric energy that keeps Casanova flowing. True, the flick derails quite noticeably on more than one occasion (some of the banter is belabored and one particular sex gag is stolen right out of American Pie -- and they stole it from Police Academy!), but the good points more than balance the bad.

As the titular loverboy, Heath Ledger is all smooth charm and witty quips. Supporting cast standouts include Oliver Platt as a supremely rotund fiancee, Lena Olin as an ever-scheming matriarch, and (of course) Jeremy Irons as one of the most broadly sniveling villains this side of Snidely Whiplash.

Casanova might look a lot like Amadeus but it feels a lot more like a goofy stage farce. We jump from doe-eyed romance to ribald chuckles to swashbuckling action -- and very little of it makes a lick of sense to a logical mind (and I highly doubt that much of this is based on actual history), but it's still a big juicy wedding cake of a movie. Call it an arthouse guilty pleasure if you like, but Casanova is a visually stunning, slyly amusing, and sweetly enjoyable little period-piece of a comedy. Frankly I enjoyed it a whole lot more than I expected to.

(© Review reprinted from DVDTalk, with permission from the author (me) and the DVDT management. For the full DVD specs on this particular movie, please visit and get friendly with the search bar.)

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originally posted: 05/22/06 16:46:37
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User Comments

8/12/07 Hello Stranger heath ledger is a great actor in this. but the movie let down itself sometimes. not bad 4 stars
5/07/07 fools♫gold The R-rating is nothing more than an advertisement, and I question its 4/5-ness. 4 stars
1/02/07 JI fan It was nice to see Jeremy Irons in a comic role - and he "fell down and go boom" only once 4 stars
6/05/06 malcolm funnier and better than i expected 4 stars
5/17/06 HL Actually...a very entertaining movie. 4 stars
5/06/06 Ashley Hinz It was good, should have had Keira rather than Sienna. 4 stars
2/05/06 Shawn Gadberry Sorry, but I liked it! A bit far-fetched at times (like the end) but a good time! 4 stars
1/19/06 Alex Delightful gorgeous confection. Not to be taken seriously, but loads of fun. 4 stars
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  25-Dec-2005 (R)
  DVD: 25-Apr-2006

  17-Feb-2006 (12A)


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