Starring: Catherine McCormack, Rufus Sewell
Director: Marshall Herskovitz
Format: Color, Closed-captioned, Dolby, Widescreen
Rated:Not for sale to persons under age 18.
DVD Release Date: November 6, 2001
Run Time: 114
Imagine an *intelligent* romantic comedy with a beautiful female lead, set in Venice, with a wafer-crisp and witty script, plus some brilliant doses of worldly wisdom!
Veronica (Catherine McCormack) is the kind of woman every man dreams of: a stunning beauty, she is also literate and has a great sense of humor. The problem is it’s the 16th Century in Venice, and Veronica has been pressed into service by her mother to work as a courtesan. If you are out of touch with that era’s terminology, a courtesan was a prostitute with wealthy, upper class clients. So she’s available to some men for some things, for a price. And, she’s permitted perks not available to other women, such as access to books.
The love of her life, a man of position and stature, does not quite go in the sweet, sentimental manner she had hoped. After a time, she becomes accustomed to her job and uses it to her advantage and that of Venice, by entertaining the King of France sufficiently to convince him to provide much-needed ships at a time of war.
However, her love for Marco just will not go away, even after he succumbs to family pressures and marries an appropriately positioned woman. That unhappiness is multiplied many times over when the plague strikes Venice, followed closely by the church’s Inquisition. That is when we reach the film’s climax.
Yes, we would like to have a deeper understanding of what makes Veronica tick; how she reconciled herself deep down to her un-chosen life situation. And, the movie is sentimental, which might turn some off, but really isn’t out of proportion to the story and its other strengths.
The film presents a couple of very beautiful nuggets of wisdom:
(1) There’s a consistent moral thread that runs through every society from age to age and generation to generation, the tenets of which are established within parameters, and therefore subject to change; or more specifically, subject to a change in perspective. And that change can come very quickly — veritably over night in some instances.
(2) There is also another constant that defines the human condition in any era. we will do whatever is necessary to survive. It is simply an undeniable, irrefutable basic instinct of the human animal. Moral tenets and survival, however, taken as properties are something akin to oil and water, and will mix accordingly. Being more often than not polar opposites, conflict is inherent and will ultimately surface at some point or other, the outcome of which is determined by the strength of whichever perspective is prevalent at the moment. And it is at such moments that we discover that life, like politics, can be a sordid, unpleasant affair; or at the other end of the spectrum, the greatest gift of all.
This is a rare film, a smart love story that isn’t saddled with an overly-predictable outcome. For that and its other assets such as dialog and captivating visuals of Venice, it comes highly recommended from me.