Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Venice-Set `Dangerous Beauty' All Wet

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Venice-Set `Dangerous Beauty' All Wet

Article excerpt

Any movie that begins with slow-motion shots of a rose being

tossed in the air is off to a really bad start.

Dangerous Beauty, though, survives, simply because of its

unflagging goofiness, becoming the so-bad-it's-good story of The

High-priced Prostitute Who Saved Venice, Only to Face the Black

Plague, the Spanish Inquisition and Some Small-Minded Ingrates.

By any rational standards, of course, it's stupendously silly,

with more than a few inadvertent moments of Monty Python-esque

wackiness.

That's not even including the visit from the Spanish

Inquisition, which mutates into something like the "I'm gay,

too" scene in In & Out.

All of it's done with a straight face, as it's brought to you

by the team behind thirtysomething and Legends of the Fall,

neither of which was known for its sense of humor.

It must be seen to be believed.

Catherine McCormack (Mel Gibson's doomed wife in Braveheart)

is straightforward and appealing as Veronica Franco, a bookish,

penniless woman in 16th-century Venice. She makes, we're told,

the only viable career choice given a woman of her station: She

becomes a courtesan, a prostitute for the watery city's movers

and shakers.

Dangerous Beauty gives us lots of blather about women's

sexuality and independence. But it's really an excuse to get to

some coy candlelit sex scenes straight out of a bodice-ripper

romance, with breathless narration along these lines: "We lived

for lust and love and beauty, pleasure then our only duty."

That's only the iceberg's tip of all the goofiness here.

Oh, where to begin?

We could tell you about the phallic food -- asparagus and

bananas both get a workout here. Or perhaps the poetry contests

and the mock Shakespearean exclaiming. "You think me venal?"

quoth one thespian. "You are a venal cur," another ripostes.

We could tell you about the extras -- grimy Monty Python

peasant mobs or robust noblemen who give hearty HA-ha-HA laughs

like the merry men in a Robin Hood movie. …

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