Heath Ledger plays the famed 18th century womaniser Casanova in Lasse Hallström's bed-hopping yarn. Critics, though, were unimpressed with a tone that "wavers uneasily between slapstick and sentimental." Likewise moviegoers gave it a wide berth, despite the buzz surrounding Ledger for Brokeback Mountain and co-star Sienna Miller's rising profile.
Making The Moves
Cast and crew mull over the logistical problems of shooting on the waterways of Venice in the featurette Creating An Adventure. Among the challenges they faced was the phenomenon of 'aqua alta' when the water rises and floods the piazzas. Indeed Hallström seems more excited about the prospect of shooting inside a few of the city's historical buildings. "We're very proud to show people those interiors of Venice," he explains, "where I don't think anyone has shot before." Ledger had a rather different perspective on the sets - mostly from the air, swinging from a chandelier. "I like to jump off things, that's the bottom line," he says. It's not the first time we've heard an actor boasting of doing all his own stunts, but the Aussie thesp insists, "It's not to gloat. I just enjoy it."
In case you're not convinced of how "wonderful" and "magical" Venice is, there's an additional four-minute featurette where these points are reiterated. An additional minute is given to showcasing the extravagant costumes that reflect all the decadence and "flamboyance" that characterised the city in the 18th century. It's not Miller who got to wear all the prettiest frills though. Costume designer Jenny Beavan points out that Ledger is in fact "the clothes horse of the show."
An extended scene doesn't add much to the story except an opportunity for Casanova and Francesca (Miller) to confess their love at a masked ball. Hallström doesn't provide commentary for this, but it's safe to assume the dialogue slowed down the big chase finale. The director does, however, provide commentary for the main feature. Unfortunately it's a pretty lethargic trawl through the film where once again he points out the sights of Venice and throws in the occasional trivia titbit. In terms of his approach to the story, he doesn't say much except that, "It was a decision not to have any Italian influence on the language or accents" - hence the neutral British vowels.
In all, this package of extras is very uneven. With so many holes, it's difficult to imagine this DVD release can stop the film from sinking into obscurity.