Pamela L. (Pam61) from PROVIDENCE, RI Reviewed on 1/22/2008...
This movie has many of the things I like in a movie...drama, romantic love story, beautiful costumes, historical period, exotic locations. Catherine McCormack is definitely a beauty, and Rufus Sewell is very handome. Think of a great, passionate romance novel that's just come to life on the big screen! Women will enjoy this one, more than once!
5 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
TIMELESS MESSAGES WRAPPED IN A SUPERB ROMANTIC PIECE
Shashank Tripathi | Gadabout | 04/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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 who's also literate and has a great sense of humor. But you see, it's 16th Century Venice, and Veronica has been pressed into service by her mother to work as a courtesan. If you're 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 won't 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's when we reach the film's climax. Yes, we'd like to have a deeper understanding of what makes Veronica tick; how she reconciled herself deep down to her un-chosen life situation. And it's 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) That there is also another constant that defines the human condition in any era -- that 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."
Amanda Goodwin | 03/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A sumptuous love story set in Venice, this has remained my favorite film ever. The luxurious costumes, tender music, astonishing true story, and the breathless beauty of Catherine McCormack leave you mesmerized. This film did not do well at the box office, but that's because movie-goers like the big stars rather than the intellectual Oscar-contender. Based on the true story of Veronica Franco, a poetess and courtesan in Venice 1500s, 'Dangerous Beauty' tells of her decision to become a free and educated prostitute over an obediant, repressed wife, and what ensued when she fell in love with a man of title and estates. Marshall Herskowitz (dir.) exhibited his brilliant talent and McCormack artfully, and made it more entertaining than any Merchant-Ivory film. McCormack is definitely one to watch in years to come, and I hope we see her in more costume dramas, because she excells. 'Dangerous Beauty' (bad title) is one of the best, and once you see it for the first time, you'll want to watch it over and over again."
Bawdy. Decadent. Lavish. Threatening.
Jeffrey E Ellis | Naperville, IL USA | 05/24/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Venice. The beautiful and voluptuous gem of the Mediterranean. A city like no other with her bawdy history of Courtesans, gentile society, and decadence.
Dangerous Beauty pits the lavish and indulgent life style of the fair city of Venice against the zealous tyranny of the "church" during the time of the Inquisition. Believing that God's wrath had been stirred by the public sinfulness of a modern-day Sodom, the church seeks to remedy the Plague by rooting out wickedness - including the liscentious life style of the courtesans.
But our heroine, brilliantly played by Catherine McCormack, bravely defends the traditions which allowed her to make a living in a society that shut the door on the aspirations of women. In the social system of the time, women either were born to wealth or married it. Anything less meant a life of servitude in the under-class.
At the root, this film is about power. A woman's power in this day, in this city, lay in her beauty or her birth.
Excellent performances, beautiful sets and scenery, acting talent galore.
The R rating is for nudity and sexual content."
Romantic, sumptious, decadent...
Kali | United Kingdom | 04/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I caught this movie late one night when there was nothing else to watch. I was totally captivated and smitten by Catherine McCormack's portrayal of Veronica Franco a real life Courtesan of the 16th century. It was an exquisite film from beginning to end. Jacqueline Biset was superb as Veronica's mother who taught her daughter the powerful arts of her sex and set her upon a path that would eventually lead her into the arms of Senators, Kings and Priests. The understated Rufus Sewell was excellent as the love of her life who at first abandons her when she has to bed the King of France for the sake of her country, but who finally rallies to her side when a jealous young priest accuses her of witchcraft. There are many memorable moments in this film, one being Veronica trying to dissuade her friend from having her daughter become a Courtesan. It is poignant and heartfelt as two women look at the lives they live and wish they were the other. Add to this the scene where Veronica confesses not to being witch before the Catholic Inquisition but just a woman whose choice of profession has been dictated to her by the narrow constraints of Venetian society. This is a film for those who want to be stimulated both sensually and intellectually. It's a shame that it didn't reach a wider audience when it first came out in 1998. Absolutely stunning is my final thought on this ad-fab film."
Reverie in Venice
D. Roberts | Battle Creek, Michigan United States | 01/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's not obvious from the cover of this DVD, but this is a Period movie. It takes place in 16th century Venice, and the sets / wardrobe are magnificent. It is also based on a true story. The film is taken from a biography that originated as a doctoral dissertation at Yale university.
The movie centers on a bleak time in human history when women had precious few economical avenues in which to earn a living. Being a harlot was about the only profitable occupation, but it came at a severe price.
One of the central themes of the film is how well educated upper-tier courtesans were. Some viewers of this movie may be inclined to think that the filmmakers made this up. They did no such thing! A legacy that traces back to the ancient Greeks mandated that high-priced prostitutes be articulate, intelligent and able to carry on conversations about sundry topics. Even today, "High Society" Escort services encourage the women who work there to have dynamic personalities and not be "one dimensional."
The engine that makes this movie go is Catherine McCormack. I did not know who she was before seeing this DVD, but this morning I added several of her other movies to my Amazon wish-list. She is stunning, exquisite AND she's a great actress. She has a natural screen presence and has all the subtle nuances down of being a good actress. While the story was very interesting, the movie would have been ruined had they picked an attractive but mediocre actress to play the lead. Oh, and the fact that McCormack is willing to shed her clothes gives her an A+ in my book!
The plot serves as a sobering statement of how the Christians were heckling people 500+ years ago just like they do today. What's worse is that they had the legal authority to condemn people they didn't like. This story is a grim reminder of why the Founding Fathers of the United States were so vehement about separation of Church & State.
If you like Period movies, pick up this DVD. If you're Italian, pick up this DVD. If you're not Italian, pick up this movie. Did I leave anyone out? This is a movie I'd give 10 stars to if I could, and William Shakespeare himself would have been overjoyed to be involved in the making of it.