This lengthy 16th century romp detailing the life of Venetian courtesan Veronica Franco (McCormack) is so awash in '60s costume kitsch, old-fashioned sexual banter and feeble innuendo as to make a mockery of its putative celebration of the self-emancipating efforts of its low born heroine. Poetry loving Veronica can't wed her dashing aristo Marco Venier (Sewell), since he's bound for a marriage of convenience. Her mother Paola (Bisset) steps in to announce, shockingly, 'You will be a courtesan, like your mother!', proceeding to teach her the ropes. Before you know it, this gifted student is jousting with verses against court poet Maffio Venier (Platt), and bedding Doges, cardinals, cabbages and kings, while outside the pox, the plague and puritanism rage. There are few traces of irony, intended fun, or Casanova-style exoticism here: the director may intened a feminist Visconti, but he ends up with a Zalman King Red Shoe Diary crossed with a Dick Lester Dumas adaptation. Only the finale, a preposterous trial with Veronica caught in a bitter war between church and state, raises the spirits.
Cast and crew