Lasse Hallstrom's new romantic comedy, "Casanova" (IMDb listing), is an amusing and charming film. Starring Heath Ledger as the legendary Giacomo Casanova, the film does not follow the real history of Casanova, but reimagines his life as "What if Casanova fell in love?" That love interest is Francesca Bruni, played by the normally stunning Sienna Miller, whose looks are played down in this film. I'm assuming that's because the director wants the audience to believe that Casanova falls in love with Francesca's personality and not her face.
Oliver Platt, one of the best character actors today, takes on the role of Papprizzio, the King of Lard, Francesca's betrothed from childhood, but he mistakenly takes a shine to Francesca's mother, Andrea (Lena Olin a.k.a. the real-life Mrs. Hallstrom), believing her to be Francesca.
Meanwhile, Casanova decides to romance Francesca as Papprizzio and not as Casanova, whom Francesca abhors with a passion. Jeremy Irons takes on the wicked role of Bishop Pucci, who's out to hang Casanova for heresy and indecency. Irons could play a rock and I'd watch him.
The film is light and refreshing with a great turn by Omid Djalili, who plays Casanova's manservant, Lupo Salvato. "Casanova" was shot entirely in and around Venice and it looks like a picture-postcard of the area. The gorgeous cinematography depends on the beauty of Venice and not on green-screen FX like "King Kong."
And finally, if die-hard Ledger fans are looking to off-set his recent turn in "Brokeback Mountain," "Casanova" will fit the bill.
Filmfodder Grade: B