Reviewed by: Darren Amner

Heath Ledger stars as the legendary seducer Casanova, a master of disguise, who goes under many alter egos to gain the object of his desire. However, these objects just so happen to be the entire female population of Venice. Nobody is immune to his charms, whether it be stealing the virtues of supposedly sworn oath nuns to the Cardinal's mistress. He meets his match, however, when for the first time ever a young Venetian beauty, Francesca (Sienna Millar), does what no woman has done, refuses his advances. By accepting the challenge, Casanova risks his life, his reputation and his chance to find true love. She is a strong willed, independent minded lady who, like Casanova, has a secret she has yet to reveal. Will it take a large sacrifice from the great lover to win the heart of this fair maiden?

The film is a modern re-working of a classic period piece, shot entirely on location in Venice, which, for any production designer, is the best tool they have at their disposal. The costumes are sumptuous recreations; the cinematography by Oliver Stapleton captures all the splendour the city has to offer. Old historic landmarks, such as St Marks Square, play host to exciting set pieces, as Swedish director Lasse Hallström uses wide angles to film Venice in all her glory. The script is lively paced and features enough action, seduction and betrayal to keep the plot moving along tightly. My only criticism is that there are not enough romantic interludes between Casanova and Francesca.

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Miller is not given a chance to display her range as an actress. She is feisty enough and does well during the climatic dramatic scenes, but more involvement in the earlier, introductory period would have added character to Francesca's beauty. Ledger is perfectly cast. He is charismatic and charming and has the looks and wit to be appealing to the eye of a woman. A perfect ensemble of fine actors, with Jeremy Irons, as the token villain, sending himself up at times and yet pulling it off with style, ably supports him. Oliver Platt, as Papprizzio, is hilarious and could well have found his niche with this performance.

The film is intended to be fun, and it is, a swashbuckling romp that has enough seduction and romance to float a gondola down the canals. Hallström invokes the spirit of Venice and reaps the artistic benefits of shooting on location in such a beautiful city.

A perfect date movie. Recommended.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2005
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Has the serial seducer finally met his match?
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Read more Casanova reviews:

Sarah Artt ***
The Exile **

Director: Lasse Hallström

Writer: Jeffrey Hatcher, Kimberley Simi

Starring: Heath Ledger, Sienna Millar, Jeremy Irons, Oliver Platt, Charlie Cox, Lena Olin, Ben Moor, Stephen Grief, Natalie Dormer, Lauren Cohan

Year: 2005

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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Fellini's Casanova