Dangerous Beauty

You find out from the man that you love that he cannot marry you. Why? Because you are in a different economic class than he is and your father has spent your entire dowry. So, what’s a girl to do? Become an over-priced, well-educated prostitute for the rich, of course. Then you can accomplish three things: get yourself some high pleasure, make some money for your family, and–the most important–make that man that you love mighty jealous.

That is the basic story line for Dangerous Beauty, the second film starring Rufus Sewell I’ve screened in less than a week. Of course the girl, Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack), is not called an “over-price well-educated prostituted” in the film; Franco is actually called a courtesan. She becomes a courtesan like her mother (Jacqueline Bisset) before her for the main reason to earn money for the family. But, we all know that she’s also doing it to make the man that she loves, Marco Venier (Rufus Sewell), jealous and to find that opportune time to spend with him.

Veronica meets many men as a courtesan and one of them discovers her talent; she is a gifted poet. She befriends Marco’s uncle, Domenico Venier (Fred Ward), who is a rich man and is willing to publish her works. There are a few subplot lines that run through the film, including one about the jealousy of Marco’s cousin, Maffio (Oliver Platt), over Veronica’s published works. Don’t let these small details slip; they will come back later.

Dangerous Beauty starts off telling the audience that it is a movie based on a true story, I’m not familiar with the story of Veronica Franco so I can’t say if it’s true to life or not. The movie itself is very entertaining. It has two things that kept my attention: the beautiful cinematography and the gorgeous and talented Catherine McCormack.

The cinematography, sets, and all-around look of Dangerous Beauty are breath taking. Cinematographer Bojan Bazelli films Dangerous Beauty with a fuzzy lens that makes everything very soft. But along with this, take note of the changes of colors that follow the changes of moods during the film. There are two very distinct looks. One is the golden bright look when Venice is doing well and the other is the dark blue look when Venice has fallen into trouble.

The performances are generally good, but it is Catherine (Braveheart) McCormack’s that lights up the screen. She does a wonderful job with her part of the courtesan that is supposed to love only the pleasure that comes from her job. Rufus Sewell does well also onscreen; Sewell and McCormack have definite chemistry, which helps the film. Whenever the two are onscreen together the sparks are flying. I hope to see McCormack in more films soon.

The script by Jeannine Dominy, based on the book The Honest Courtesan by Margaret Rosenthal, is entertaining enough to hold our attention. It is not quite a gripping script but there are moments when we are completely caught up with what is happening in the film–look for the two poetry contests between Veronica and Maffio. Though there are those moments that run a bit long and we are left to look at our watches. The pacing of the film is a bit uneven, but this is a small flaw.

Dangerous Beauty is an extremely entertaining film that benefits from the beauty and acting of Catherine McCormack. Though the pacing is a bit uneven and some of the lines performed seem out of place, those are small flaws in the overall view of this film. Don’t Miss Dangerous Beauty in the theatres.

Edited by Cher Johnson.