You Call That a Player? 

Heath Ledger's Bold Turn as a Straight Man

As it turns out, not even a gay cowboy can save Lasse Hallström from himself. Hallström (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) has topped his career crapfest with Casanova, a film so directionless and uncompelling that it made me wish the theater would just play "The 2wenty" for the entire 108 minutes.

Heath Ledger, fresh off his acclaimed turn in Brokeback Mountain, T-bones his new acting godliness with a lukewarm effort at making Hallström's Casanova an interesting figure. Casanova is basically drowning in OPP—he's trading fuckfaces with nuns, princesses, ugly chicks, and practically any other chick he runs into. It's funny how he can do that, since Hallström essentially castrates Ledger from the get-go, turning history's biggest player into a sniveling simp (that's a sensitive pimp), who's only scoring poon to make up for the fact that his mommy left him when he was a child.

Of course, then Casanova runs up on one honey who's not impressed by his leotards, and of course, he decides he loves her. She's Francesca Bruni (Sienna Miller—neither smart nor sexy), who writes feminist texts under a male pseudonym and is supposed to take part in an arranged marriage with a wealthy lard merchant (Oliver Platt). By the time Casanova and Francesca fall in love, he's somehow engaged to a hot, scrawny virgin—a fact that he wisely keeps from Francesca. Oh, and Casanova's also operating under an assumed identity, since Francesca, naturally, is repulsed by Casanova's legendary sexploits. When the lard merchant sails into town, Casanova delays him, and tells Francesca that he's the mail-order groom that she's supposed to marry, and that he was only pretending to be himself to see if she'd be untrue. This convoluted mess of double identities and deceits could be interesting—if only Hallström had developed a cast of characters worth caring about.

Casanova's biggest problem is that it doesn't know what kind of movie it wants to be. It's part swashbuckling, Zorro-like adventure movie, part masquerade ball period film, and part CBS Monday night sitcom. Perhaps if Hallström had chosen one direction and followed it, Casanova could have been a decent film. Casanova also might have been a decent film had the studio just taken Hallström off the project entirely.

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