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   DANGEROUS BEAUTY (1998) 

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CAST
Catherine McCormack
Rufus Sewell
Oliver Platt
Moira Kelly
Fred Ward
Jacqueline Bisset
Jeroen Krabbé
Jake Weber

DIRECTED BY
Marshall Herskovitz

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 111 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Romance/Drama/History


This film is direct proof of how important marketing is to the success or failure of a movie in Hollywood these days. A DANGEROUS BEAUTY is a remarkably well-acted romance with an intriguing story and stunning art direction, but no one would ever know that because the studio didn't gave it a stitch of a chance to succeed at the box office. I heard that it was good, but never saw a damn thing about it. Which is too bad because this is an extremely well-done film that lingered in my psyche for several days after viewing and that rarely happens to me anymore. I guess one of the reasons A DANGEROUS BEAUTY was such a hard sell is because the lead character is a courtesan – a high-class one to be sure, but a prostitute nonetheless. The fact that the story takes place in the 1500's in Venice, Italy does take the edge off a bit. I can understand the inherent problems of your heroine living a life most people consider evil or at the very least highly unsavory; however, she doesn't really have much choice in the matter.

Veronica Franco, played fabulously by McCormack, is a commoner and not allowed to marry the man she loves (he's a member of the upper class). So instead of either becoming a nun or settling for a man she doesn't really want, she chooses the life of a courtesan. Believe me, this is the choice any smart and sane woman would make given the alternatives at that time. As a courtesan, she's free to come and go as she pleases, is wined and dined by the wealthiest men in the city, wears the most fabulous clothes, gets to have sex without retribution and most of all is allowed to become educated. After all, one must know a lot about the world in order to converse with worldly men. Her choice becomes much easier to swallow after her childhood friend Beatrice (Kelly) is married off to a man old enough to be her father (whom she doesn't love) and Marco (Sewell), her childhood love, succumbs to his family's wishes. Being the eldest son, he is expected to make a match that will further the family's future both financially and politically. All Veronica can offer Marco is her heart, and though he loves her, it's not enough for him to rock the boat.


"No biblical hell could ever be worse than this state of perpetual inconsequence."

So Veronica becomes the best courtesan Venice had ever seen. All the men in Venice want to possess her, not only because of her beauty, but because of her wit, charm and intelligence. She is not your everyday woman of the evening. Veronica is also a gifted poetess with a flair for rhyme that charms the pants off every man she meets. Her beauty certainly doesn't hurt, but it's her personality that keeps them coming back for more. She initially refuses to sleep with Marco, mainly to punish him for not loving her enough, but comes to realize that none of them really has much of choice when it comes to matters of the heart. Once they finally become lovers she stops seeing other clients. Her heart has always belonged to Marco and they spend as much time together as they can. They exist quite happily until war breaks out. In order to secure the help of King Henry of France, Veronica is forced to spend the night with him. Marco is unable to forgive her decision, even though he sleeps with his wife every night for duties sake.

A jealous old friend's power places Veronica in a fight for her very survival and forces Marco to realize he cannot live without her. With her life on the line, Marco puts his own in jeopardy to save hers. A truly fitting end to this marvelous love story. Catherine McCormack proves she's more than just a pretty face in this film. Her performance is wonderful. She fairly glows on the screen with wit, beauty and intelligence. I believed without a shadow of a doubt that she could enrapture all of these men. She shows great strength of character as a woman who is proud of the life she has led. The chemistry between her and Sewell is magical and touching as these two people just try to keep their love alive despite the worlds restrictions. Everything in this film is first rate from the costumes and set design to the music and dialogue. The story isn't anything overly original, but the characters are interesting and it never gets hokey, which is a real danger with a piece like this. If you like period romances, A DANGEROUS BEAUTY is a must-see.



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