There is nothing in life like having a “meant to be” encounter with someone who leaves an impression that lasts a lifetime. In Benoit Jacquot’s film “Casanova Last Love”, it is 12 year old Marianne who we later realize lived her life in hopes that Casanova would one day pick her like a flower in the field of infinite possibilities from the intangible universe as his last love, bringing fated lovers together as it often does. As a child during her first encounter with Casanova, it is the sentimental gift he leaves her that ignites hope in a future of a life-altering romance. However, would she just become one of the many?
Benoit’s depiction of Casanova as a matured sexual savant is effortlessly portrayed by actor Vincent London, coiffed in a fitting wig. In Bohemia France of 1793, he recounts his history not of his various romantic liaisons, but of his last love to Cecile (Julia Roy), whose uncle employs him as a librarian at her estate. Marianne played by actress Stacey Martin is one of his many conquests whom he did not remain friends with, and therefore his last love. In one scene, Casanova’s attempt to jump off a bridge in midst of being pricked by Cupid’s arrow over Marianne’s disloyalty shows her power over him. That drastic scene reveals why in fact she remained his last love, for the power she governs over herself becomes so strong that he is unable to inflict feelings of jealousy and lust over her, and he, therefore, becomes enraged in a mad fit of jealousy.
Taunted by the idea of an elixir, this is what ultimately piques Casanova’s interest in the ever-so illusive Marianne, known as La Champollion, a term of endearment that is becoming to her for the fact that her character continues to evolve, both on a sexual, fantasy provoking and romantic level. As warned by his friend Lord Pembroke (Christian Erickson) about her, she is the one who quickly abandoned him in the midst of a great fiery passion, as she was told to have taken the Lord’s money prior to an agreed sexual transaction.
A buoyancy of seductive imagery, the beautiful costumes, and cinematography so poignantly refined will leave your heart jolting with an ecstasy of passionate contemplation. Making you feel as if you are part of the upper echelon during the time period, Benoit is simply a master at inducing excitement through suggestive dialogue. Ponders Lord Pembroke “do you really envy men who settle down with one woman?” And Casanova callously imparts “one day I enjoy perfume, another day it makes me ill”. Until that is, he meets his last love.
It is the bath scene with Marianne that leaves both the audience and Casanova in an allure of overwhelming lust. Marianne invites Casanova to her mother’s abode, standing fully nude in view, serving as eye candy for viewers, possibly the moment when Casanova feels her feminine pulchritude take over him. Later he admits to not loving her, but do men often say as they feel when they are leading on the woman they most admire?
This is a film that exemplifies that by not giving away your power to powerful men, although there is an inevitability to it, you are elevated in their minds. And there is a precise methodology to do this, as Marianne quickly catches on. One must ultimately ask themselves, what does it take to seduce a Casanova type, or to be seduced by one? And this film sheds light on some latent practices that made Casanova’s last love both lasting and fervent.
The film is now playing! We attended an advanced screening hosted by Unifrance International French Cinema Fest and Cohen Media group at Quad Cinema last week.