‘Casanova, Last Love’ Review: Reappraising a Philanderer

The French filmmaker Benoît Jacquot (“Diary of a Chambermaid,” “Farewell, My Queen”) is a grasp of costume dramas with an erotic bent. He brings the European interval piece all the way down to earth by pitting aristocratic whimsy in opposition to the uglier experiences of the working class, and he’s by no means afraid to visualise the, uh, unseemly organic realities beneath all these pantaloons and hoop skirts.

“Casanova, Last Love,” his newest foray into the world of powdered wigs and courtly intrigue isn’t any exception, although it pales compared to his fiery women-fronted movies.

Jacqout reappraises the infamous philanderer by depicting him not as a raucous pleasure-seeker however a weathered unhappy sack residing in exile. In this world, playboys are pathetic and pitiable, which reads like a plea for contemporary audiences to chop maligned males extra slack.

Framed as a sequence of flashbacks, the movie follows Casanova as he wanders phantom-like across the English court docket — a rather more vulgar place than his regular stomping grounds. He falls for Marianne de Charpillon (Stacy Martin), an alluring however merciless prostitute who claims to have encountered him as soon as earlier than when she was an impressionable 11-year-old lady.

Thus begins a desultory cat-and-mouse recreation that emphasizes the anomaly of La Charpillon’s intentions, that are complemented by the cinematographer Christophe Beaucarne’s dimly-lit areas and dreamy, velvet textures.

The terrific French actor, Vincent Lindon, normally performs brooding sorts with a menacing streak however right here he imbues his Casanova with delicate poignancy. It’s an fascinating efficiency that however transforms Casanova to the purpose that he’s now not a plausible womanizer.

Perhaps that’s the intention: appearances and reputations are misleading. Though Jacquot throws into query our presumptions about figures like Casanova, in addition to vilified girls like La Charpillon, he leaves it at that, leaving us questioning what precisely it was all for.

Casanova, Last Love
Not rated. In French and English, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. In theaters.