Prayer Focus
Movie Review


MPAA Rating: R for some sexual content

Reviewed by: Lori Souder

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Romance comedy
1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 25, 2005
Featuring: Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Charlie Cox, Lena Olin, Oliver Platt
Director: Lasse Hallström
Producer: Oliver Stapleton
Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures
Relationship issues
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

How can I tell if I’m getting addicted to pornography or sex? Answer

Is there a way to overcome excessive lust for sex? Answer


One of the taglines that has been used to advertise this movie goes as follows: “A partially true story about lies told, virtue lost and love found.” I would suggest, rather, that this movie could be viewed as a debauched fairy tale at best, and at worst, a propaganda film glamorizing the pleasures of endless fornication and adultery. Any truth in the movie is minimal.

The film opens with a mother leaving her son because she is running away with a man that she wants to have a sexual relationship with. Raising her son is not a priority. The boy is devastated. The goodbye is quick and without ceremony. It is understood that the mother is hot blooded and is ruled by her lusts. Immediately, the child is then shown to us as the adult that we know is Casanova, as played by Heath Ledger. Casanova has once again gotten himself in trouble and his advocates in high places conspire to allow him to slip away and continue his sex-addicted lifestyle. This theme comes up over and over again in the movie. Casanova has many friends or shall we say enablers who romanticize his “life’s work.”

The plot is one of mistaken and stolen identities, a woman who dresses up like a man, a cross gender nom de plume, and marriages of conveniences. It is all just crazy madcap “good fun” until someone gets hurt, and no one ever does in this film. No one is ever shown to suffer for any length of time for anything that Casanova does or causes, no matter how terrible, illegal, immoral, or self-centered his choices are.

Casanova, who can reportedly have any woman that he wants, finds that there could possibly be one lady who could resist him, and it whets his appetite. Though flagrant lying, misleading innocents, cheating people, and breaking promises that he has make, he sidles up to her, closer and closer, like a snake in the garden of Eden.

The setting is Venice and the actual city is used in the filming. It is very sumptuous in an aged old world way, and that adds a unique feeling to the story. The soundtrack is classical and lush with instruments and compositions that sound appropriate to the time period. The cinematography is beautiful as you would expect from the director of “Chocolat.”

This movie is a sweet iced bon-bon hiding a dangerous and deceptive message inside. The movie wants us to believe that Casanova was a great lover of women, a romantic, a philosopher, an all around sweet guy who is just bringing a lot of joy to everyone around him-especially bored women. The actual historical reality could not be more different: Casanova was a destroyer of women.

Women at the time had very few choices, although in Venice, where the movie is set, they were more fortunate as many of them had some education that was given at home. However, without a marriage or wealth, women had no chance to choose or improve their lives or the lives of their children. When Casanova breezed in for the night, the woman could contact one or more of his numerous venereal diseases, and pass it on to their husband and any children that they bore from that time on. And if there was any trust inside her marriage, it would be destroyed, perhaps leading to estrangement or separation. There could have been domestic violence incited against the woman. If the woman was engaged or betrothed, she might have lost her chance with her fiancé and any others who had high moral standards. If a child resulted from the tryst with Casanova, it might be illegitimate if the woman was unmarried. If conceived within a legal wedlock, it might be rejected by one or both of the spouses, or at the very least, feel somehow different from the other family members and alienated in some way.

Casanova, in truth, was a thief of virtue, fidelity, health, and security. He was a bringer of misery and disease and unhappiness to all he encountered. But as the movie states at one point, it is all worth it as one night with him is a fair exchange for an eternity of damnation!!

Despite the constant immoral sexual behavior discussed and portrayed in the movie, there is never a whisper of a mention of any of the various venereal diseases which Casanova suffered from and passed on in real life. Nor is there any mention of children fathered by Casanova, any hurt and angry husbands and boyfriends, or any loss of trust and intimacy in marriage or broken engagements caused by infidelity of the woman.

In fact, marriage in the movie is not considered anything but a financial contract. No one in the movie disapproves of Casanova’s behavior except for the “uncool” people. That would be the Catholic church represented by the one-dimensional Inquisitor Bishop Pucci played by Jeremy Irons. Everyone in the movie, and especially anyone that knows Casanova personally, tries to help him, protect him, and save him whenever justice deems him punishable.

In real life, Casanova was much more frequently leaving town and moving on due to the many outraged husbands that he cuckolded or the infuriated guardians of his conquests rather than being hotly pursued by the Inquisition. This movie seeks to make a hero out of Casanova, although in life he was always being chased out of town in disgrace for his many illegal and immoral acts. On the official Web site for the movie, it is stated that…

“He is best remembered as a World Class Lover, but that does not mean our amorous friend does not have scruples. Casanova was opposed to the idea of orgies, which were all the rage at the time.”

It is quite amazing what Hollywood considers “scruples” these days! And having many, many one night stands is somehow morally superior to having many partners at once? It seems merely a matter of timing to me. Sin is sin.

The acting overall was very good, but I thought that Health Ledger was a lackluster Casanova and did not have the charisma that it takes to charm countless women on a daily basis. I thought that Paprizzio (played by Oliver Platt) was a much more interesting and charismatic character. I also thought the character development was very good on almost all of the parts except for the one-sided Casanova and the “cardboard cut-out of a bad guy,” Pucci the Bishop. I especially admired the costumes and intricate wigs used in the production. The end of the movie was an interesting twist, but truly a silly fantasy.

I have given the rating of extremely morally offensive to this movie not because of the profanity or the nudity, or the violence, but because it iron-fistedly pushes the theme that “it’s all good” when people choose sexual pleasure over everything else in their lives. It is the current theme of the media you see and hear everywhere. This film also reiterates the stupid and preposterous myth that you can have as many sexual encounters as you wish without any consequences, and when you find the “right” person, true love makes that relationship perfect, effortless, and being faithful is then ridiculously easy.

There are those who would defend this movie saying that with the subject matter it could have had much more nudity, sexually explicit scenes, and have been much more objectionable overall but chose not to be that type of movie. However, this movie is actually far more dangerous and insidious that one that is obviously crude and lascivious. It takes a very harmful message and wraps it in beautiful fluff and makes it palatable to almost everyone except the “uncool” people. Soon, with only a few scenes shortened or cut, and a little of the language changed, it will be playing on a television station near you so your young children can see it. It will be considered a new classic. The rating of R is warranted, and is due, I believe, exclusively to the subject matter which will not change no matter how it is cut and dubbed for TV. Just thought you should be warned.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer Comments
Positive—Warning—CHICK FLICK!! However, it was VERY funny! Had a lot of hidden humor, yet clean humor. There was one, possibly two. rather graphic sex scenes, not graphic as in what you see but what you hear. I would not recommend for a child or even a young teen!!!
My Ratings: Average / 4
Nathan Fleischaker, age 20
Positive—I understand… the historical facts about Casanova, I know the facts and this is not that story. This is the story about a womanizing sexual predator of young and innocent ladies who fall head over heals in love with Casanova by the very site of his presence. Casanova has the purposeful reputation of being the ultimate companion and the ultimate romantic. Casanova believes that one can aspire to love for just one evening with the anticipation that one day the evening will never end and nor will his love. He is a true romantic with he is a relatively innocent young chap, with the exemption of his desire and need for the female companionship.

The story begins with Casanova having his many escapades with various women running from the catholic church and doing what he can to not disrespect his friend, the prince of Italy. After being caught by the catholic church and being charged with infidelity, the prince steps in and saves him, making him an agreement. Casanova must find a bride quickly or else be deported to France. Casanova is now on the search for the perfect bride. Quickly Casanova finds the bride of his choice and likewise she is drawn to him, more for sexual reasons than love. It appears to be the match made in Heaven. Until Casanova’s heart is drawn away by a beautiful and intelligent scholar with a heart of gold and a tongue of brilliance. A lady who can match wits with him and also show him the true meanings of love. Casanova is set on winning her hear but not allowing her to know who he really is, because of his tainted reputation. However, one thing lies in his way. He is engaged to another and so is she. She is engaged to a man she has never met, arranged by her mother. A marriage meant to be, strictly because she is beautiful and because he has the money to bail her family out of their financial bankruptcy. The rest of the plot is one for you to see.

The movie “Casanova” brings together the brilliance of ancient literature, with a modern and unique flair that I have not seen in years. I have not laughed more in my life than in one scene involving the Catholic Arch Dioceses who wears a wig with a flat top. Yes, I said flat top. Jeremy Irons who plays a character who is so into himself and his attire, he wears a wig for the sole intention of being cool, however it is completely uncool for the time. The writer was clearly trying to take the audience back to the 80s where flat tops were in, playing on the emotions that flat tops are now completely a thing of the past, however the movie is set in a period where they never even thought of such things. Nonetheless a WIG. This movie brings together modern humor into a pre-modern era without a hitch. Casanova brings together both time periods with perfection, making you forget the present, escaping to the past, while holding you in laughter with modern humor.

“Casanova” is a movie that is perfectly acted by its complete cast including the one and only Oliver Platt, Heath Ledger and Jeremy Irons. Oliver Platt plays the husband to be of Casanova’s love interest, owning a company making lard. Oliver Platt is by far one of the best supporting character actors in Hollywood and again proves his talent in this movie. At the same time his performance does not take away from the stellar acting of the rest of the crew. Each person is excellent, and each in their own way. “Casanova” was a movie that will make you fall in love with romance while having you laughing you tail off in the midst.

Although there is no nudity in the movie, there are a couple brief scenes of sexuality and also a lot of sexual humor and discussion. No, this is not a movie that is trying to be filthy or dirty as some may imagine by the review, instead it is really trying to show the opposite. It is trying to show how love is NOT sex but really a matter for the heart and not physicality.

Just to let you know, this movie actually slams the Catholic Church to within an inch of its life. For all of you who are familiar with “indulgence” (payment for forgiving sins), you will actually find this either offensive or funny… There was a scene in the movie, where the fiancée of Casanova brings this false allegation about him stealing her virginity. The Arch Diocese says that she needs her testimony to convict Casanova of fornication, leading to his death. He tells her that if she testifies that he will “give her virginity back.” She says “Can you really do that?”. He says “I am the Catholic Church, I can do anything I want.” This is only one small part of the slam on the Catholic Church who did in fact make laws up and convict those who they could not extort money out of back in that time period. Sad but nonetheless true. Thank God for Martin Luther.

Warning to Parents: Although I would say that the morals in this movie were positive and it was a very lighthearted and fun romance. This movie does have NON NUDITY sexuality, sexual humor and sexual discussions. I think that adults could handle the humor, although depending on your convictions, I would say be careful to anyone thinking about it. Could I condone it, NO, would I say it sounds a lot worse than it is, YES.

I give this movie two thumbs up and an amazing 4 of 4 stars for being a true joy to watch and an incredibly talented movie.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 5
John Kehrli, age 31
Positive—I gave this an offensive moral rating because I honestly believe it is, well it can be depending on the viewer, as long as they are adult. I will admit, it does put down the Catholic Church, and while it may make a statement of sinning being okay, I don’t think that’s all it does.

Yes, Casanova has slept with countless women and in this movie, it seems we never see him face the consequences, with the exception of being caught by the law. But no disease, angry lovers or husbands, or illegitimate children are brought to his or our attention.

It has all of those problems, which only a mature viewer should watch, but I think all the reviewers have left out something that, in a way, makes up for all of the films problems, Francesca Bruni played by Sienna Miller who states that she is saving herself for the type of love a man would give his life for. Who tells Casanova “Love is not an affair of a night or a fortnight and true love doesn’t grow with the number of lovers, it wastes away.”

Even with the “cool people” in the movie helping Casanova, and making fornication seem “cool”, “ok”, and without consequence there is one lady that also helps Casanova, but her way of saving him is to save him from himself, if he will only see her truth. I believe with all wrong doing in this movie, that this movie is still worthwhile because of her, who provides a good role model for those young enough to watch this movie and need her.

My Ratings: Offensive / 5
Stephanie, age 23
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was very funny and light-hearted. It didn’t take itself too seriously, and overall it presented a good message. Even though Casanova initially fooled around a lot with various women, in the end he realized that loving only one woman was more fulfilling. The acting was good, and many of the characters were hilarious. The plot line was sufficiently captivating, although I thought the very end was a bit lacking. There were a few objectionable scenes, but there was no nudity, and overall it wasn’t a very strong “R” rating. …
My Ratings: Average / 4
Emma, age 17
Movie Critics
…Director Lasse Hallström’s latest is, unfortunately, yet another movie glorifying consequence-free promiscuity, and it reinforces a lie our culture has nearly swallowed whole.
Plugged In, Adam R. Holz
…Casanova presents history’s most famous fornicator as more of a figure of guile and mirth than anything remotely sexy…
Toronto Star, Peter Howell
…Neither sly nor seductive… Famed lothario’s mystique is missing in Hallstrom’s retelling…
Washington Post, Desson Thomson
…Hallstrom’s film is busy and unfocused, giving us the view of Casanova’s ceaseless activity but not the excitement. It’s a sitcom when what is wanted is comic opera…
Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert
…could use a little more love… sophomoric and dull…
Boston Herald, James Verniere