Monday, March 29, 2010

Movie Log: Dangerous Beauty

The Wife and I are running through a period of seeing vaguely "sexy" period movies -- many of them set in Venice, which apparently is the Official European City of Smut for the entire early modern period -- and so we saw Dangerous Beauty a couple of weeks back.

It's the story of a young courtesan in 16th century Venice (Catherine McCormack as Veronica Franco), who turns to that life -- strongly urged by her ex-courtesan mother -- when she realizes the chance of marrying her love (Rufus Sewell as Marco Venier) are nil. Veronica becomes renowned at her arts, the lover of many of Venice's most powerful and rich men as well as an accomplished poet and court wit.

Eventually, of course, the Inquisition comes to town (after a battle with the Turks and subsequent outbreak of plague), and Veronica is put on trial. This leads to what seems to be the most obviously "Hollywood" moment of the movie -- but, according to some sources I've seen (which the reference the source of the movie, Margeret Rosenthal's biography The Honest Courtesan), it's what actually happened.

Dangerous Beauty is a lightly feminist romance, dedicated to the proposition that a woman should have say in her own life and scope to be good at the things she does. It's only mildly smutty, in that sophisticated Merchant-Ivory style, but that's enough. And both McCormack and Sewell are quite attractive in this, which is the whole point of romantic historical movies. It's not a lost classic of cinema, but it's more historically true and interesting than Casanova (which we also saw recently).
Listening to: Gram Rabbit - American Hookers
via FoxyTunes

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