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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Dangerous Beauty (1998)



Reviews and Comments

Dangerous Beauty takes a moral stance that's somewhere between troublesome and irritating. It chooses sides in a war between two evils.

The story is of a courtesan in Venice -- in an age when becoming one was the only way a young woman could attain rights and an education. The first half of the film is a well made character drama with some fine performances. But it does not stand alone; it requires an appropriate conclusion to give it purpose. The end of Dangerous Beauty, which involves the Spanish Inquisition, is not the end it needed. The film is presumptuous enough to simplify the Inquisition's violent reformation into a black and white moral issue. It's not so simple. The society in Venice was problematic at best, as was the Inquisition that reformed it. The film would have done better to tell the story of human characters doing their best to survive in turbulent times rather than to take a falsely glorified moral stance and defend the function of prostitutes in society. There's a lot of potential in a film about a society in which prostituting oneself is the only way to preserve one's human rights. But rather than exploring the issue, Dangerous Beauty is content to state the problem, then take a dubious soapbox stance. It's too bad. As I say, the acting is very good, as are the other technical aspects of the film's making.