Federico Fellini’s darkest film cracks through the myth of Giacomo Casanova. As played by Donald Sutherland (M.A.S.H, Don’t Look Now), the notorious womanizer is presented as a pitiable and terrifying figure.
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This is an orgy for the senses done in a fashion that only Fellini could pull off. Sutherland is brilliant here as a tragic Casanova who makes his way through Europe trying to protect his integrity in the midst of blatant debauchery.
This will never come back. This uniqueness, this rich vision was the non reproducible Italian brand on cinema. In other regions they were maybe using some refined trick to entangle audience's attention lacking this refined sense for locations and design, but this cinema was also a (multi)sensorial experience because of the aggregation of such elements.
Well, it'll ruin sex for you for at least a day or two, and I suppose that's an accomplishment of sorts. Perhaps Fellini's greatest endurance test, full of turgid, blunt, off-putting set-pieces built around a campy Donald Sutherland who clearly doesn't want to be there. But one star is added for a heartbreakingly perfect ending...something that Fellini almost always pulled off.
How this is considered minor Fellini is beyond me. To me its among his most impressive films. I don't know if there is another film where such exuberance paradoxically evokes feelings of such loneliness. What's remarkable was how Fellini allegedly hated Casanova but grew more sympathetic towards him as production continued and that change of perspective is apparent in the film. One of his best for me. Masterpiece.
Sutherland looks like a transvestite gym coach doing push-ups whenever he has sex in this movie. That's neither here nor there as to the quality of the movie, which is extremely high. WARNING: The chess-robot scene made me a crazier human being, as in I was slightly less sane exiting this movie than I was entering it.
A triumph of production design, art direction and costume design; Fellini's take on the Casanova story certainly has his trademark grotesqueness and carnality but is missing focus and purpose in storytelling. Sutherland (badly dubbed) has a real presence throughout and there are many memorable scenes. Film pales in comparison to the Fellini canon but does offer its rewards. The ending however is perfect.
Strange-looking Sutherland, don't how Fellini casted him to play Casanova. Oh, well. Still, this is a gorgeous later Fellini flick that should be remembered to fans and rather little more erotic than SATYRICON as well mesmerizing.