by Tony Medley
What can I say about this silly
movie except that it is an almost total waste of talent and money? The
color and settings are beautiful and sumptuous. The light-hearted story is
non existent, trying for cheap laughs instead of a coherent plot. This is
brain candy, a trifle. Since it is entirely without substance, the 110
minute running time is far too long.
Jeremy Irons is the most
appealing actor as a stern but whimsical administrator of the Inquisition
named Pucci. But director Lasse Hallström and screen writers Jeffrey
Hatcher and Kimberly Simi have taken the low road and a cheap shot at the
Catholic Church by presenting the Inquisitor as a Catholic cleric. In
fact, however, Casanova (Heath Ledger) was not investigated by an
Inquisition of the Catholic Church, which this movie alleges, but by
Inquisitors of the State of Venice.
He was arrested, escaped in
1756 and fled Venice from which he was banned until allowed to return 18
years later in 1774. But that has nothing to do with this movie. Those are
facts and this movie does not bother itself with facts.
The truly sad part of this
movie is that about the only truth in it is that there was a man who lived
in the 18th Century named Giacomo Casanova. Born in 1825, he
was a charlatan who lived by his wits, defrauding many men and bedding
many women, including, apparently, his illegitimate daughter. He was a
dismally unsuccessful writer, but at the end of his life did pen an
autobiography of questionable verity that covered the first 49 years of
his life through1874. He had enough adventures to inspire many movies.
Why, then, is this movie totally fiction?
As near as I can determine this
attempts to tell the story of a short period of Casanova’s life up to his
escape from Venice in 1756. The final dénouement is ludicrous.
My guest for the evening said
that it made her come out of it smiling and what more can you ask of a
movie? If the movie were simply a frivolity, what writer Graham Greene
would term an “entertainment,” fine. On that level, if it were entitled
“Giovanni” or “Giuseppe” or something like that without any historical
connection, it could be said to be agreeably diverting, highlighted by its
lush settings and cinematography.
For myself, if it is named
after an historical person, as this is, I want to come out of it having
learned something about that person. Entitling it “Casanova” probably
means that they will suck in people who want to learn something about the
historical man who had that name. It is irresponsible for filmmakers to
make a film like this and lead people to think they are watching something
with some verisimilitude.
If it were not for the
calories, I would sooner get sugar to my brain by eating a Hershey bar
than spending 110 minutes watching this.
December 24, 2005