Though Ginger & Rosa is arguably Sally Potter’s best work to date, it’s certainly the English filmmaker’s most accessible. But that’s not to diminish her past experimental, more iconoclastic movies. Her previous work has clearly enriched this finely observed and affecting tale about two teenage girls coming of age in early-1960s Britain. Like Orlando, her adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s centuries-spanning novel which established her name internationally 20 years ago, there’s a strong female protagonist through whose POV the movie unfolds. We sense a deep personal involvement in the narrative, though not to the autobiographical extent of Potter’s The Tango Lesson, in which the director played herself. The formalist challenges she took on in the fashionista thriller Rage—comprised almost entirely of confessional close-ups—seem to have resulted in the huge emotional payoffs in the intimate scenes in the current film.
Oliver Platt (#1–10 of 2)
Reviewing Casanova is like trying to describe a saltine cracker. It’s a cracker, it’s a got a bit of salt on it. It’s of interest mainly as a facsimile of a now-extinct species, the Miramax costume picture (the director is Lasse Hallström, of Chocolat, The Cider House Rules, etc) and for those two performances. What else can you say? The best things in it are Jeremy Irons’ bureacratically smug performance as the Vatican inquisitor Pucci, send to Venice to persecute our titular stud, and Oliver Platt, who plays the man betrothed to marry the woman on whom Casanova has designs.
Platt’s work is especially sharp. In fact, the instant his insecure businessman arrives in Venice, the whole film seems to perk up. Finally, a movie star! This is always the case when Platt arrives. He’s often the most exciting (and funny, and intelligent, and human) thing in whatever film or TV series has the sense to cast him. (His teamwork with John Cusack in The Ice Harvest, where he played an alcoholic, carousing, tragically philosophical middle-class schlub, was exquisite, at once clownishly absurd and there-but-for-the-grace-of-God sad. Looking at these two guys, you just knew they’d woken up together in more drunk tanks than they could recall.) And although Platt rarely disguises himself—being so tall and big-bellied, with that bassoon voice and those ruddy cheeks, how could he?—he wrings such exquisite emotional colors from every scene and line that you don’t think of any particular role as an Oliver Platt role.