This is the first film rated R that I've seen (as far as I can remember) where the rating is actually an advertising ploy. Given that the movie is about Casanova (Heath Ledger), one of history's greatest lovers, and that the film sports an "R" rating, one would expect to be inundated with female flesh for a good two hours, hoping at the very least that if the movie sucked nudity would be rampant.
Worse, the film also stars Sienna Miller, who has pretty much made her career being nude and dating Jude (rhymes with nude) Law. In fact, until this movie, I simply knew her as the breasts in "Alfie." Is she nude here? No. Is there even the slightest bit of nudity in "Casanova"? No. In fact, I have a hard time seeing why this thing should even be rated "PG-13" other than the use of the word "virginity," which I suppose makes the subject matter somewhat dicey. However, this just goes to show that anything dealing with sexuality automatically gets an "R" from the prudish MPAA while the average film character can take an Uzi, slaughter an entire African or Arab village, and easily walk out with a "PG-13."
And is it just me or is it a bit suspicious that prior to "Brokeback Mountain," Jake Gyllenhaal plays a marine and right after "Brokeback Mountain," Heath Ledger plays Casanova? Is it possible that these oh so progressive actors thought it wise to balance a high-profile gay role with an adjacent role of the "super-straight" persuasion?
What we have in this movie is basically a slight riff on "Pride and Prejudice" except from the man's point of view. See, Francesca Bruni (Miller) is the modern woman in need of marriage to somebody wealthy to save her mother (Lena Olin) from poverty. Of course, she finds the whole idea of an arranged marriage to Lord Papprizzio (Oliver Platt), whom she hasn't met, to be completely oppressive. She also finds Casanova, or rather the idea of Casanova, offensive. In fact, she's so modern that she writes under a pen name and publishes feminist writings posing as a man, which really makes no sense when you think about it.
Anyway, Instigator Pucci (Jeremy Irons) shows up to arrest Casanova. However, Casanova poses as his servant and then as Papprizzio, all in an effort to win over Francesca, which is the type of thing that seems to happen in every movie, no matter where it's set. The guy spends a few weeks or months pining for some woman he's also lying to, then expects her to forgive him in the end when he confesses all his lies.
Does it work here? Of course it does, which makes "Casanova" nothing worth seeing.
To spread the word about this Casanova review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.