October 9, 2006

Casanova Part I: Disasterpiece Theater?

Unlike the man it set out to dramatize, last night's Masterpiece Theater presentation, Casanova, failed to knock knickers off. (Not mine, at least.)

I had issues a'plenty, of which I'll name a few:

1) The film (especially the first three minutes or so) reminded me of a bad episode of THE MONKEES, with Casanova (or was that Davy Jones?) running around the back-alleys of Venice being chased by men he's cuckolded. And the background music accompanying these antics was something akin to the Benny Hill theme song. I get that they were trying to play up the farcical aspects of the story, but it was just annoyingly mad-cap and Stooge-like. This was probably my biggest gripe with the movie. It's almost as if they kept trying to make sure we'd get the joke by overly hamming it up. (Mind you, I'm not against stupid humor in a period piece, as evidenced by my review this year of Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.)But in the case of Casanova, I was bored, not bemused.

2) The dialogue sounded way too 21st century, and the delivery reminded me of the rhythm you find on shows like "Gilmore Girls" or "Dawson's Creek," a.k.a. trying way too hard to come off as clever, and not entirely working. (A huge pet peeve of mine.)

3) The sets and costumes looked cheap and amateurish. Nothing about the production value seemed on par with what we've come to expect from Masterpiece Theater.

4) At the ball where Casanova presents his castrato-turned-fiancee, the whole scene just seemed like an '80s flashback weekend. I guess the director was trying to give the story an updated feel (perhaps as Sofia Coppola has done with "Marie Antoinette") but it didn't work.

I'll give the film's star, David Tennant, some props for being charismatic enough to carry the production. His charm and flirtatiousness makes you understand why women would have shamelessly flung themselves at him. Peter O'Toole was great as the elderly Casanova reflecting on his raucous past (although this framework narrative reminded me too much of "The Princess Bride"..."Oh don't stop now! Tell me more! What happened next?!"). The rest of the cast didn't do much for me.

I'm sure people out there are going to disagree with my opinion, so feel free to let me have it. I've heard that the movie eventually takes a poignant, tear-jerking turn, bt you'll have to let me know if that's the case. I won't be watching. -- Amy

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