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:: Casanova

The story of Casanova is based on fact - Casanoca Franseco a 18th century philosopher, lawyer, activist, author and magician - titles that don’t define his status as much as his legendary amount of women he bedded (a conservative number, 120 women), which was a lot for 18th century Venice.

For a movie timed to be released on Valentines Day, Casanova is deceptively cast as a story of true love conquering all. True love does make a mention of course, but the film is very light and entertaining. There are jokes at Casanova’s (Heath Ledger) expense and a few moments of humour teasing Casanova’s animal instincts, and of course, a virginal fiancée who has slap stick like quivers when she sees her betrothed.

There are some moments where Ledger shows innovation and creativity, and some of his natural, rugged and cheeky character presented in 10 Things I Hate About You surfaces in Casanova. Ledger’s portrayal of Casanova is mischievous, sly and irresistible.

As with over-fed egos, Casanova has every woman but loves none. Accordingly then, he falls in love with the only woman he loves is the one he can’t have, Francesca Bruni (Sienna Miller). Miller plays a Keira Knightly-like heroine and shows admirable charm. Her character is young, yet charmingly naïve. She is a refreshing contrast to the perception that women of that era where either portrayed as virgins of Venice or judged as scandalous whores.

The film is kept interesting by little love parallels, twists and masquerades.Casanova must overcome obstacles, including Bruni’s fiancé (and his own), to get to the cross dressing, feminist Franseco. Her fiancé (Oliver Platt) offers Casanova little competition, he is enormous, shy and likeable. Yet, he has no mean streak and to save things being too easy for Casanova, the minor character of Pucci (Jeremy Irons) adds spice. As usual, Irons adds a touch of drama and wit reminiscent of his Amadeus evil, quipping lines like, “we’re the Catholic Church, we can do anything” with a deadpan face.

The role of Casanova wannabe, Giovanni (Charlie Cox), brother of Francesco, offers focus away from Ledger. With Orlando Bloom like sweetness and Calvin Klein model-esque dead straight hair, he definitely beats Ledger in as the aesthetic Casanova.

Director Lasse Hallström has a touch for visual art settings, having directed the art house Chocolat. He makes the film worth seeing simply for the utilisation of Venice in the background. Clever shots have outdone the cliché gondolas of Venice - there are interesting angles and focus on sloping roofs, narrow streets, alleys and grand buildings. Historically, the movie has interesting innuendos to the subject of the females in Venice at the time - full of nuns, virgins, upper class and corruption that affected all of them.

Casanova is really a farce, with some light love interspersed. It may not so much be about true love, real time, as one might believe that real love is being faithful, a the greatest challenge for Casanova.