A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this romance is focused on the legendary 18th-century lothario, here revised to suit a secret identity plot and his romance with a proto-feminist writer. The film includes some raunchy sexual material, plus jokes about bodily functions (as well as verbal and visual jokes about one character's obesity). References are made to sexual pleasures, "whores," brothels, virgins, "fornication," as well as "coming" and "instrument" (as double entendres). Characters appear in various states of undress, women wear cleavage-revealing dresses. Characters drink at parties; one smokes cigarettes.
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What's the story?
In CASANOVA, 18th-century womanizer Giacomo Girolamo Casanova (Heath Ledger) spots Francesca (Sienna Miller), lecturing in an academy, disguised as a man. Her topic: the state of heterosexual relations. When her listeners insist they will never stand for a woman among them, she whips off her wig and beard, noting, "Too late, gentlemen!" Although Casanova is soon trying to escape from guards who have been sent by his arch-enemy Pucci (Jeremy Irons), he likes feisty Francesca and sets out to win her. To evade arrest, Casanova agrees to marry the virgin Victoria (Natalie Dormer), while Francesca is promised to lard baron Papprizzio (Oliver Platt) by her impoverished mother Andrea Bruni (Lena Olin). Though Francesca despises everything she knows about Casanova, she is taken by him when he pretends to be Papprizzio. He tries to keep her away from the real Papprizzio, avoid Pucci, and charm Victoria and Andrea in order to give himself enough room to seduce Francesca.
Is it any good?
Gaudy and giddy, this Casanova is full of energy but also strangely limp. Here the legendary lover is caught up in a swirl of Venetian activities, from pig wrangling and dueling to hot air ballooning and torturing (supposedly comedic, though associated with the Inquisition), but he's actually quite the nice fellow. Casanova's story is a juggling act and then some, but for all the flouncing and running about, it's very slow going.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the representation of marriage, as a means to solidify one's social status, clear one's name, cover up for sexual activity, and gain money. Francesca's argument for women's rights and against men's objectification of women is simplistic but also provides grist for conversation: how can she make her point clear in a film where she's the primary romantic object?
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