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From: Mark Leeper <mleeper@optonline.net>
Subject: Review: Casanova Variations (2017)
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Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2018 09:39:49 -0800 (PST)
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Subject: Review: Casanova Variations (2017)
From: Mark Leeper <mleeper@optonline.net>
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CASANOVA VARIATIONS
               (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: This is a film that intentionally keeps 
    radically changing its style from stage play to opera 
    to present-day in period costuming.  This intentionally 
    disorients the viewer and has a little fun with the 
    character of Giacomo Casanova.  Director Michael 
    Sturminger co-authored the philosophically leaning 
    script based, of course, on the life of the notorious 
    libertine Giacomo Casanova, who claims to have seduced 
    and bedded a thousand women.  The film is something of 
    a puzzle with reportedly inside jokes.  (I say "inside" 
    because I am on the outside.)  The music by Mozart 
    might     be the most welcome element of the film.  
    Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

Giacomo Casanova, the mega-libertine, is writing his memoirs.  A 
publisher wants to buy the memoirs and publish them, but Casanova 
does not want them to be public knowledge.  That is how the story 
begins and at least for a few minutes the audience should be able 
to follow the plot.  But that will not be true for long.

CASANOVA VARIATIONS is a puzzle box of a film.  It is one or 
perhaps multiple stories told on three or more tracks of 
storytelling.  One track is in the form of a Mozart opera (staged 
at the Sao Carlos opera house of Lisbon), though this opera is 
really a fraud--pieces of several Mozart operas.  Malkovich has no 
singing voice, incidentally, and that plays into what is going on. 
In the opera Malkovich is playing Casanova with a ravenous appetite 
for sex, while his outer self philosophizes.

Another track is a stage play telling what seems to be the same 
story.  Yet another track is John Malkovich backstage playing 
himself in the present.  It is not clear any of this is consistent 
with anything else.  Just about every scene is a variation of what 
we have seen previously and Malkovich as Casanova philosophizes 
about his need for variation.  It is not clear what writers Michael 
Sturminger (who also directed) and Markus Schleinzer (who didn't) 
are really trying to say beyond expanding the limits of cinematic 
expression and perhaps having a good time with the audience.  I am 
sure nobody expected it all to work for the viewer.  The telling is 
full of in-jokes that require special knowledge.  When Casanova 
collapses on stage he is brought back to life by an 18th century 
defibrillator.

It might have helped the viewer if the portion of the film done as 
opera would have been subtitled, but then it might have been 
obvious what was being sung was mismatched pieces of other operas 
sewn together.  To further complicate issues there are flashbacks 
thrown in that are not entirely obvious.  This is a film that is 
probably not intended to be followed, but to show off the visual 
imagery and give the viewer some beautiful Mozart music.  Malkovich 
as Casanova seems to be playing the dirty old man version of the 
dirty young man he played in DANGEROUS LIAISONS.  In the end the 
story is about Malkovich as much as it is about Giacomo Casanova.  
If you are bothered by opera sung in Italian you might find it 
excessive.

I rate CASANOVA VARIATIONS +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

Who really was the greatest seducer of all time?  Technically that 
title would almost certainly go to Genghis Khan.  I have been told 
that about one third of the Earth's current population bear DNA 
from Genghis Khan who considered rape his right as a conqueror. But 
perhaps no European can claim so many successful seductions as 
Giacomo Casanova.

Film Credits:
<http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2614400/reference>

What others are saying:
<https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/casanova_variations>


					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2018 Mark R. Leeper