A young woman tearfully leaves her son (Eugene Simon) to live with his grandmother. She promises to come back for her boy. Several years later, in 1753, in Venice, Casanova (Heath Ledger), is notorious for his success and promiscuity with women, his adventures being represented in puppet theatres around the city. The Doge, the ruler of the city, is sympathetic to Casanova, but cannot be too lenient to avoid trouble with the church. He warns Casanova that he must soon marry or he will be exiled from the city.
Casanova is falling in love with Francesca (Sienna Miller), who writes illegal feminist books under the name of a man, Bernardo Guardi, and argues for women's rights as Dr. Giordano de Padua. Her mother (Lena Olin) pushes her to marry Paprizzio (Oliver Platt), a rich man from Genoa whom she has never seen. When Paprizzio arrives in Venice, Casanova lies to him and says that the hotel he booked is closed and he persuades him to stay at his house. Casanova also lies and says that his nom de plume is Bernardo Guardi. While Paprizzio, preparing to visit Francesca, stays at Casanova's house, Casanova visits Francesca, pretending to be Paprizzio.Piazza San Marco, Francesco Guardi, 18th century.
During the Venetian Carnival, Casanova confesses his true identity to Francesca, which makes her angry. Casanova is arrested by the Venetian Inquisition for crimes against sexual morality, such as debauchery, heresy, and fornication with a novice. He saves Francesca by pretending to be Bernardo Guardi, which impresses her very much. At his trial, Francesca reveals that it is in fact she who is Bernardo Guardi, and both are sentenced to death.
Just as Casanova and Francesca are about to be hanged in the Piazza San Marco, they are saved by an announcement that the Pope gave amnesty to all prisoners who were to be executed on that day, as it was the Pope's birthday. It is later discovered that the "Cardinal" who gave the announcement was actually an impostor who happens to be Casanova's stepfather, wedded to his long-lost mother who came back for him just as she promised when Casanova was a child.
As they all escape on Paprizzio's boat, Francesca's brother, Giovanni (Charlie Cox), stays behind to continue Casanova's legendary womanizing.
- Heath Ledger as Giacomo Casanova
- Sienna Miller as Francesca Bruni
- Jeremy Irons as Pucci
- Oliver Platt as Paprizzio
- Lena Olin as Andrea Bruni, Mother of Francesca
- Omid Djalili as Lupo Salvatore
- Stephen Greif as Donato
- Ken Stott as Dalfonso
- Tim McInnerny as The Doge of Venice
- Helen McCrory as Casanova's Mother
- Charlie Cox as Giovanni Bruni
- Natalie Dormer as Victoria
- Philip Davis as Guardi
- Lauren Cohan as Sister Beatrice
- Eugene Simon as Casanova aged 11
Filming began on July 9, 2004, and the finished film was released in the United States on September 3, 2005. Visual effects for the film were produced by Custom Film Effects and Illusion Arts. Period costumes were supplied by four different Italian costume houses: Tirelli Costumi, Nicolao Atelier, Costumi d'Arte, and G.P. 11, and shoes were manufactured by L.C.P. di Pompei. Wardrobe was also rented from Sastreria Cornejo of Spain.
Concerto Grosso in D Minor, Op 3 No 11 (Vivaldi)
Concerto for Mandolin in C Major (Vivaldi)
Concerto No. 1 in C Major (Paisiello)
Concerto in B Flat (Durante)
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 44% based on reviews from 131 critics.