starring Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Oliver Platt
screenplay by Jeffrey Hatcher and Kimberly Simi
directed by Lasse Hallström
by Walter Chaw Casanova is a perfectly dreadful Lasse Hallström/Miramax picture that can be claimed, appropriately enough, by Buena Vista now that the Weinsteins have moved on to produce this kind of stuff for their new company. It's "The Merchant of Venice" stripped of any whiff of controversy, going through the motions of its shrivelled little romantic-comedy checklist with the miserable meticulousness of the truly unimaginative. For a change, why don't you tell me how it works? Two people meet and hate each other, right, and then the one has a secret that the other discovers just as things are finally going well, yes? And so he has to make some sort of grand gesture to win her back (preferably in a public place)--but don't forget the bit about how no matter the era in which the film is set, she's a progressive thinker, if not a proto-feminist, and he's the tamer and the tamed in turn. See? You've seen it already. Heath Ledger is the boy, Casanova literally this time; Sienna Miller is Venetian Francesca, the girl who needs the love of a suddenly-reformed Casanova to get her panties out of a bunch. The Inquisition (embodied by a vamping Jeremy Irons) and the arrival of a disgusting fat slob of a lard merchant (Oliver Platt, the object of derision--the man deserves better than a role that has his stomach emit "squishy" noises when touched) provide the conflict. There's also a lovely American Pie tribute where Casanova receives a blowjob under the table (from a virgin who orgasms whenever she looks at the guy--feminism, hurray!) while talking to his future in-laws. Toss in a dash of totally unearned sentimentality and a ridiculous action sequence wherein everybody knows how to fence but no one knows how to win and you have Casanova. Enjoy! Originally published: November 13, 2005.