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Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (Fellini's Casanova) Reviews

Page 1 of 5
Eric B

Super Reviewer

October 21, 2009
Federico Fellini's renowned directing touch seemed shakier after "Casanova," an overlong, erratic portrait of the legendary lover.

Donald Sutherland is the unlikely star, and the problems start there. Not only is his familiar growl overdubbed with a harsh Italian voice (disorienting, to say the least), but his androgynous persona is near laughable. With his powdered complexion, lined eyes and shaved hairline, he looks less like a womanizer than a cold-creamed housewife on her way to bed. Meanwhile, his vivid, frilly outfits are often ridiculous, and the wispy half-shirt and bloomers he wears underneath -- while probably period-accurate? -- are downright girlish. It's a creepy characterization. Then again, the film won the Oscar for Best Costume Design, so others obviously appreciated these excesses.

Like many Fellini movies, "Casanova" is a series of intricate set pieces rather than a linear story, but the action seems more repetitive this time. Seduction scenes dominate, naturally, but the couplings are shot in such a crass, exaggerated way -- from the woman's perspective, as Casanova slams into her from above as if pedaling on an exercise bike -- that the sex is totally unappealing. Perhaps this is the point. We aren't meant to admire this shallow rogue who boasts about his virility, pathetically grovels for acceptance as a scholar and swoons lovestruck hyperboles whenever he happens to meet a beautiful woman.

Otherwise, the inevitable highlights are the festival settings, where Fellini's visual imagination runs amok with his usual, bacchanalian genius. An early scene with a giant, carved head emerging from a canal is dazzling. A chaotic orgy that suggests an earthquake is delightful insanity, as is a musical segment where multiple keyboards haphazardly feed a single organ's cacophony. There's also a homoerotic operetta (an interesting test for composer Nino Rota), a walk-in whale carcass marketed like a circus sideshow and a seven-foot woman who wrestles doomed male challengers (as if that weren't enough, her handlers are midgets). Casanova also woos a humpbacked woman and a delicate, life-sized robot. On a more subtle level, his eventual decline is exquisitely symbolized by the aftermath of an opera, where the emptied house leaves him alone on the bare floor as the chandeliers are lowered and systematically fanned out by the crew. Another clever metaphor is the toy bird that repeatedly stretches and chirps during his bedroom romps.

"Casanova" is a strange mix of realism and theater, as elaborate sets clash with obviously faked buggy rides and a sequence where a stormy ocean is simulated with rippling plastic tarps. The chronology sloppily jumps around -- the story is initially told via flashbacks as a jailed Casanova contemplates his life, but this structure is soon abandoned -- and women who enter the plot as pivotal characters are discarded minutes later without ceremony. Nothing hangs together as smoothly as it should. Casanova turns a bit more sympathetic near the end as he ages and is humbled to become a modest estate librarian, but the film's imagery remains far more affecting than its human insights.
Double.Dubs
Double.Dubs

Super Reviewer

July 28, 2012
What happens when you put "La Dolce Vita," "Satyricon," and "Giulietta degli Spiriti" into a blender and mold the remnants around the pseudobiopic of an 18th century libertine? You get "Fellini's Casanova," that's what!

Although many consider "Amarcord" to be Fellini's last great film, he knocks it out of the ballpark with the phantasmal, anachronistic, decadent, Jungian, social commentary/character study "Casanova." The film is an intoxicating Frankenstein of "Satyricon"s lush, colorful, malodorous, visual richness juxtaposed in a decaying culture, "La Dolce Vita"s portrayal of a man unable to love and whose quixotic dreams of artistic respect is only undermined by his myopic debauchery, and "Giulietta degli Spiriti"s glorious overabundance of Jungian associations which blur the lines between fantasy and reality. You can even throw in some "8 1/2" in there; the bottom line is that Fellini has presented us yet another masterpiece overflowing with his style and trademarks.

Granted, I'll admit that this film obviously does not reach the lofty heights of any of the aforementioned films it borrows so heavily from (which is still all from the mind and experiences of Fellini,) perhaps with the exception of "Satyricon."

And, in hindsight, it becomes potent that this picture is reserved only for the fans. However, if you happen to love Fellini you'll have a great time watching this magnificent film where he is at his most indulgent, unrestrained, and freelance. I also, personally, consider this to be his most surreal film, considering how he somehow managed to convincingly turn Donald Sutherland, Conrad Jarrett's tenderly loving father, into an androgynous womanizing sexual deviant.
March 23, 2014
Fellini's luxuriant, sardonic picture, is a great account of human sexuality, impotence and our basest instincts and desires, with a sublime performance from Donald Sutherland.
jsbond008
January 31, 2010
Astonishing
Overtly sexual filthy
Mesmerizing
However just like all fellini, a man's film
I care not to discuss plot holes or issues with continuity, I am not a director I am a an admirer of film. Film is not real life nor is Fellini attempting to reproduce anything but fantasy.
His Casanova is a biopoic exploring a man of letters, a man who is sure he is a philosopher of body and mind. He is so fond of his stature as an explorer, he lives life apart from the men around him, engulfed in the women, always passionate about the women.
He takes part in the physical yet lives in the spiritual, which to him is one. Visually few films come near it.
Morris N

Super Reviewer

June 13, 2007
Great performance by Donald Sutherland and some of Fellini's best visual work. I wish someone would release this on DVD in a US format.
May 19, 2007
i really wanted to like this, but didn't. i almost feel guilty listing this one cuz i only sat thru 2/3 of it's 3 hour 30 minutes. visually it?s a stunning film. but the subtitles run much too fast to keep up with, and the story was boring. i?ve heard before that donald sutherland hated working with fellini on this film.
girlanachronism13
January 8, 2007
I feel like there was something big that I didn't 'get' about this film. I seem to walk away from a lot of Fellini feeling this way, but this picture in particular. The entire vehicle for the film seemed to be getting Casanova from one person's bed to another--or is that the point? The sets, makeup, costumes, and (to a certain extent) characters were interesting, though. But for one reason or another, I left this picture scratching my head and wondering what I missed.
May 28, 2014
Even more dazzling than Satyricon and with more laughs but the cold, distancing atmosphere is effectively alienating. A weird movie about passionless sex.
February 26, 2014
A masterpiece of a self-portrait of human death.... the only thing that Casanova had for life was his intelligence, knowledge and sensibility.
January 6, 2013
Too strange to enjoy.
Darryl S.
November 10, 2012
I remember my mom dropping my brother and I off at the Colorado 4 Cinemas to see this film. (Even though it was rated R, back in those days, I suppose it was okay for a parent to purchase the tickets for their kids, even though they didn't attend. Beats me.... I'm glad I had the privilege as a 15 year-old!) Stupendous and visually ravishing! It was my first Fellini film; I became an instant admirer. Definitely not for mainstream audiences.
October 15, 2012
Very artificial and rather boring even only 30 minutes into the film, so I couldn't take another 2 hours and 10 minutes of it. I usually like foreign films and Italian films, such as Lina Wertmuller's movies and Cinema Paradiso, but this one I just couldn't take, although I liked Nights of Caberia.
Double.Dubs
Double.Dubs

Super Reviewer

July 28, 2012
What happens when you put "La Dolce Vita," "Satyricon," and "Giulietta degli Spiriti" into a blender and mold the remnants around the pseudobiopic of an 18th century libertine? You get "Fellini's Casanova," that's what!

Although many consider "Amarcord" to be Fellini's last great film, he knocks it out of the ballpark with the phantasmal, anachronistic, decadent, Jungian, social commentary/character study "Casanova." The film is an intoxicating Frankenstein of "Satyricon"s lush, colorful, malodorous, visual richness juxtaposed in a decaying culture, "La Dolce Vita"s portrayal of a man unable to love and whose quixotic dreams of artistic respect is only undermined by his myopic debauchery, and "Giulietta degli Spiriti"s glorious overabundance of Jungian associations which blur the lines between fantasy and reality. You can even throw in some "8 1/2" in there; the bottom line is that Fellini has presented us yet another masterpiece overflowing with his style and trademarks.

Granted, I'll admit that this film obviously does not reach the lofty heights of any of the aforementioned films it borrows so heavily from (which is still all from the mind and experiences of Fellini,) perhaps with the exception of "Satyricon."

And, in hindsight, it becomes potent that this picture is reserved only for the fans. However, if you happen to love Fellini you'll have a great time watching this magnificent film where he is at his most indulgent, unrestrained, and freelance. I also, personally, consider this to be his most surreal film, considering how he somehow managed to convincingly turn Donald Sutherland, Conrad Jarrett's tenderly loving father, into an androgynous womanizing sexual deviant.
July 5, 2012
Disgustingly underrated. Fellini's last classic here, folks. Ignore the film snobs, this is the shit right here.
April 26, 2012
If even Fellini failed to put Casanova on screen in a convincing manner, this must be a really hard subject.
Matthew D.
April 22, 2012
One of Fellini's most underrated masterpieces.
February 13, 2012
Definitely not for all tastes. However, if you're an admirer of Fellini, this one's a must-see. Stupendous art direction by Danilo Donati! Could be sleep-inducing for those who prefer speed over leisure. Donald Sutherland is fantastic! Ravishing to behold!
Eric B

Super Reviewer

October 21, 2009
Federico Fellini's renowned directing touch seemed shakier after "Casanova," an overlong, erratic portrait of the legendary lover.

Donald Sutherland is the unlikely star, and the problems start there. Not only is his familiar growl overdubbed with a harsh Italian voice (disorienting, to say the least), but his androgynous persona is near laughable. With his powdered complexion, lined eyes and shaved hairline, he looks less like a womanizer than a cold-creamed housewife on her way to bed. Meanwhile, his vivid, frilly outfits are often ridiculous, and the wispy half-shirt and bloomers he wears underneath -- while probably period-accurate? -- are downright girlish. It's a creepy characterization. Then again, the film won the Oscar for Best Costume Design, so others obviously appreciated these excesses.

Like many Fellini movies, "Casanova" is a series of intricate set pieces rather than a linear story, but the action seems more repetitive this time. Seduction scenes dominate, naturally, but the couplings are shot in such a crass, exaggerated way -- from the woman's perspective, as Casanova slams into her from above as if pedaling on an exercise bike -- that the sex is totally unappealing. Perhaps this is the point. We aren't meant to admire this shallow rogue who boasts about his virility, pathetically grovels for acceptance as a scholar and swoons lovestruck hyperboles whenever he happens to meet a beautiful woman.

Otherwise, the inevitable highlights are the festival settings, where Fellini's visual imagination runs amok with his usual, bacchanalian genius. An early scene with a giant, carved head emerging from a canal is dazzling. A chaotic orgy that suggests an earthquake is delightful insanity, as is a musical segment where multiple keyboards haphazardly feed a single organ's cacophony. There's also a homoerotic operetta (an interesting test for composer Nino Rota), a walk-in whale carcass marketed like a circus sideshow and a seven-foot woman who wrestles doomed male challengers (as if that weren't enough, her handlers are midgets). Casanova also woos a humpbacked woman and a delicate, life-sized robot. On a more subtle level, his eventual decline is exquisitely symbolized by the aftermath of an opera, where the emptied house leaves him alone on the bare floor as the chandeliers are lowered and systematically fanned out by the crew. Another clever metaphor is the toy bird that repeatedly stretches and chirps during his bedroom romps.

"Casanova" is a strange mix of realism and theater, as elaborate sets clash with obviously faked buggy rides and a sequence where a stormy ocean is simulated with rippling plastic tarps. The chronology sloppily jumps around -- the story is initially told via flashbacks as a jailed Casanova contemplates his life, but this structure is soon abandoned -- and women who enter the plot as pivotal characters are discarded minutes later without ceremony. Nothing hangs together as smoothly as it should. Casanova turns a bit more sympathetic near the end as he ages and is humbled to become a modest estate librarian, but the film's imagery remains far more affecting than its human insights.
KevinRobbins
August 28, 2011
The battle of the four testicles is about to begin

Giacomo Casanova initially lives in Venice as a scholar and womanizer. After a political scandal, Casanova is placed in prison. He escapes and heads to Paris. He travels across Europe seeking happiness and an opportunity to return home; however, every place he lands he is forced to showcase his ability to live up to his promiscuous ways. Will Casanova every find his place in society and perhaps his way back home?

"He who does not enter the whale's belly will never find the treasure."

Federico Fellini, director of Ginger and Fred, City of Women, Fellini's Roma, 8 1/2, and La Strada, delivers Fellini's Casanova. The storyline for this movie is very interesting and intricate and tells a unique tale of a fascinating character. The scenery and cinematography were stunning and the settings and costumes were epic. The cast delivers stellar performances and includes Donald Sutherland, Tina Aumont, Cicely Browne, and Carmen Scarpitta.

"It's your spiritual beauty that moves the art in me."

We continue to watch Donald Sutherland pictures based on a reference made in a recent book I read. This was a fascinating movie with beautiful imagery like few other films from this era. This movie reminded me slightly of A Clockwork Orange. This was a fascinating movie that felt well paced with unique sub plots despite its 155 minute run time. Overall, this is a must see movie for fans of the classic dramas.

"If you hadn't won I would have mounted you."

Grade: A
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