Here is a movie that took its own sweet time coming. Is there a more entertaining theme to make a movie about? Casanova - the archetypal...ahem...Casanova! There is no better word for a ladies-man, a skirt chaser, a hedonistic libertine. A Casanova. And yet, all popular representations of the real Giacomo Casanova are distortions of a personality who was equally well known to be a spy, a writer, a heretical thinker and a diplomat.
But when Heath Ledger steps onto the screen with a huge curly wig, restrained smile, suave and baritone speech, all that is forgotten. This is Casanova, "the philosopher who devotes his life to the perfection of experience". Oh, don't we agree! This is the Casanova we want to hear stories about, as he charms a young virgin senseless and slips on disguises as simply as he would the tedious layers of frilly Victorian clothing.
The year is 1753, and the city is the enchanting Venice. Casanova (Heath Ledger) is under the threat of being captured by the Inquisition for his well-known sexual exploits and The Doge (Tim McInnerny) advices him to marry a girl of indisputable virtue to slip away. Casanova gets himself engaged to Victoria (Natalie Dormer), a virgin who works herself up into an orgasm just looking at him.
Meanwhile, our irrepressible lover boy simply cannot be pinned down and made to give up his orgiastic life so easily. So he goes ahead and falls in love with the feisty Francesca Bruni (Sienna Miller) the very same day. Now Francesca who is made to believe that she is talking to Casanova's manservant, is already engaged to someone she doesn't know. In addition, she is probably the only woman in town who loathes him. She has a feminist alter ego who writes heretical novels under a man's name. Casanova therefore, has his task cut out for him.
Meanwhile Pucci (Jeremy Irons) of the Inquisition arrives and proceeds to torture and tickle his suspects with a variety of whatchamacallits - spheres to suspend people in, nets to glue them to the walls like spider-prey. Also making a simultaneous entry is Paprizzio (Oliver Platt), the overgrown-walrus like fiancé of Francesca. Casanova turns to his own natural fiendishness and creates an elaborate and hilarious web of disguises that put the Inquisition on the tail of Paprizzio, while getting him his honeybunch.
This movie is a totally enjoyable romp, and nothing like what you would expect from a historical drama. What you get instead are plenty of bawdy jokes that make you laugh continuously, set in a romantic and picturesque setting - there is a hot air balloon ride, and the men look glorious in their dress-shirts and frills.
With its bulging bagful of laughs and that historical flavor that always hots-up the romance to a delicious simmer, Casanova simply cannot be missed by movie-lovers of any kind. And the soundtrack is briliant. Easily top spot this weekend.