It’s rather interesting to note that Disney/Buena Vista distributes this period romantic comedy thinly disguised as a light sexual romp – Giacomo Casanova wasn’t particularly known for his chastity, and Disney is not known for anything risqué.
Casanova (Ledger) is a notorious “fornicator” living in Venice. When the inquisitor captures him for corrupting a nun – a novice – the lover boy gleefully proclaims, “She’s hardly a novice.” The Doge (Tim McInnerny) takes Casanova under his wings, but insists that he must get married within three days to protect his propriety. Casanova promptly finds a fiancé in Victoria (Dormer), a rare virgin in lustful Venice. Just as quickly, though, he falls for the feisty maiden Francesca Bruni (Miller).
Unfortunately for Casanova, Francesca is a feminist and she also writes under the nom de plume of Guardi, against womanizers such as the famed (but rarely recognized) Casanova. Furthermore, she must fulfill her duty and marry her betrothed, the Lard King Paprizzio (Platt), to save her family from destitution. Casanova tries to woo her while escaping the wrath of the new inquisitor, Bishop Pucci, who is determined to bring down the most famous lover of all time.
Sounds complicated? In a way; the story written by Hatcher (Stage Beauty), Simi and Cristofer (Original Sin) is rather convoluted with a huge cast of characters. The plot involves mistaken identity, lost identity, assumed identity… in fact, all variations of “identity” with multiple threads going on at the same time. Fortunately, the writers keep it light and fluffy, and the convoluted plot actually adds to the farcical romp. They also take care of introducing the characters properly so the audience won’t get lost on the “who is who?” The dialogue is generally crisp and light, sometimes very funny.
Earlier last year, Ledger (Brokeback Mountain) surprised everyone as the gay ranch-hand Ennis Del Mar. Here, he’s light and fluffy (complete with wigs and powdered makeup) as the ultra-heterosexual. At times, though, Ledger slurs his words and it’s very difficult to figure out what he is saying. Miller (Alfie) is a worthy heroine against Ledger’s Casanova. She’s cool; she’s hot; she’s resourceful; and she’s beautiful, but not in the damsel-in-distress way. And darn, Ledger and Miller look great together.