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by Willie Waffle

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It's hard to fall in love with this Casanova, and I'm not sure lust is possible either, especially since our star, Heath Ledger, seems to have had more chemistry with his co-star and object of affection in Brokeback Mountain than in this movie.

Ledger stars as Casanova - Venice's legendary, mysterious and prolific ladies man circa 1753. Of course, Casanova has gotten himself into a pickle, since the church's authorities want to try him for heresy, fornication, and flouting of morals (if Casanova is facing the death penalty, what would they do to Paris Hilton?). To save himself, the King of Sex must find a wife and settle down before the city's annual festival, but he doesn't have eyes for just any lady.

He decides to propose to Victoria (Natalie Dormer) - a Venetian lady known for her beauty and chastity, but this draws the ire of Giovanni Bruni (Charlie "I should change my name to something lyrical like Giovanni" Cox) - a young man who has admired Victoria from afar, but has never had the courage to approach her. The young suitor challenges Casanova to a duel, with Casanova using an alias. Of course, Casanova immediately falls for Giovanni's feminist sister, Francesca (Sienna Miller), and he decides to win her heart by any means necessary.

Will Francesca discover she is being courted by the same Casanova she despises? Is he really just a nice guy underneath all of that pomp, circumstance and charm? Will Casanova be punished by the authorities for being a playa?

I was hoping to pick up some pointers on how to woo the ladies Casanova-style in this movie, but he's as pathetic as me. Writers Jeffrey Hatcher and Kimberly Simi don't write enough funny dialogue, set up enough wacky situations, never establish enough romance between Casanova and Francesca, and director Lasse Hallstrom lets it all get too serious towards the end. Instead of originality or anachronism, Hallstrom and team go for the cliché including the simulation of oral sex under a table, and making fun of a fat guy as he is lead to believe he is looking better and better due to humiliating and worthless techniques. Worst of all, Casanova is extremely predictable. Only a later episode of Three's Company or Bewitched would be as obvious as this movie.

Meanwhile, Ledger and Miller are fine enough, but just don't seem to have the all elusive chemistry a movie like this needs to reach the upper echelons. Hallstrom doesn't help by eschewing the longing glances, while Miller and Ledger are too stiff and matter of fact. They need to be more flirty in their bickering, and show some interest in each other.

Casanova provides some chuckles and Oliver Platt revels in the absurdity of his character, Lord Papprizzio - a businessman who has come to town to meet the future wife in his arranged marriage, but it's not a movie to rush out and see.

1 ½ Waffles (Out Of 4)

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