Casanova Lasse Hallstrom

Director Lasse Hallstrom can usually be counted on to bring in the faux-quality audience, but even those posh poseurs weren’t fooled by this astoundingly flaccid entry into the costumed historical genre. Heath Ledger assays the title role, whom after years of man-whoring finally finds his true love in defiant feminist Francesca Bruni (Sienna Miller). Problem is, she wants nothing to do with him, and to top things off he’s being pursued by the Bishop Pucci (Jeremy Irons, slumming again) for writing Francesca’s heretical books. Long story short, Casanova has to imitate various individuals in order to keep his head, which naturally means more mistaken identities than an episode of Three’s Company. Alas, that program proves to be smarter and sexier than anything in this soggy-bottomed romp. Just as the Marquis de Sade had to be made palatably "naughty” for the Q-crowd in Quills, so Casanova has to be scrubbed clean for his appearance here — only problem is, there’s no point to the character without depicting the amorous adventures that made him famous. You’d need one hell of a script to paper over that gap and the scraps cobbled together here are tragically inadequate, being all witless wink-nudge that never means to make good on its feeble suggestion and barely-functional dialogue that defeats the normally capable cast. You’d have to be hard up for entertainment to even consider it and completely masochistic to actually like it. Extras include an okay but sparse commentary by Hallstrom, a so-so "making of” doc that makes the most out of the intricacies of Venice, two short and irrelevant supporting featurettes on the costumes and the city, and one extended sequence. (Touchstone/Buena Vista)