Top critical review
14 people found this helpful
on 5 January 2011
I'd been looking forward to this film as Angelina Jolie can be a very strong actress, Johnny Depp is a great character actor and the setting for this caper was the incomparably beautiful Venice. But alas, from the very start it showed itself to be what it ended up as - a mere vanity vehicle for the preening sex-queen Jolie, who came over as believing herself serenely superior to all women (there were barely any others in the film apart from a scene at a ball when all the men were rubbernecking to see Jolie) and the male members of the cast - who were like mice around a big cat - reduced to gibbering idiots on account of her blinding beauty. In some of her earlier films Jolie appears rather pug-faced and I guess she may have slimmed down to get those cheekbones, but her body in the dazzling gowns was bony, and she totally lacked the warmth or sassy humour of Sophia Loren - with whom she's repeatedly been compared in this film. In fact the plot used both her and Depp badly as they could have got more out of her by giving her character more dimension; as for Depp, he seemed more like a pet dog to his man-eating goddess, than a potential suitor.
The plot could have done with a more thrilling structure anyway and the only character apart from Jolie who made any impact was Paul Bettany - who has presence in every role he takes, and despite the fact that in this one he was supposed to be a rather gormless sap. Altogether I found that the egotistical vanity of Jolie ruined the picture. I know she was supposed to play an enigmatic beauty - but she played her mouth as overtly lacivious and couldn't even hold a wine glass without appearing to engage in sexual congress with it. It was all too extreme.
When you think of comparable beauties of the past - Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly and Ava Gardener - you know that any one of them would have played that role far more subtly - and with charm and magic.