Toni Servillo Set For ‘Casanova’s Return’ by Oscar-Winner Gabriele Salvatores (EXCLUSIVE)

Italian actor Toni Servillo (“The Great Beauty”) is set to star in “Il ritorno di Casanova,” a drama about what happens to a great lover when he gets older, to be directed by Oscar-winner Gabriele Salvatores (“Mediterraneo”).

Loosely based on Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler‘s novella “Casanova’s Homecoming,” in which the Venetian libertine is having trouble contending with the fact that he’s over 60, “Ritorno di Casanova,” which translates as “Casanova’s Return,” is co-written by Salvatores with “The Great Beauty” screenwriter Umberto Contarello and Sara Mosetti.

Taking his cue from Schnitzler’s use of parallel narratives — Schnitzler’s novella “Dream Story” was the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s non-linear “Eyes Wide Shut” — Salvatores is weaving his new take on the Casanova myth using that technique.

One story strand sees the ageing Casanova hosted by a friend in the Venetian countryside “where one of the guests is a proto-feminist named Marcolina,” Salvatores told Variety. She is having an affair with a young soldier named Lorenzo. Due to a gambling debt she ends up in bed with Casanova, which in turn prompts a duel between Lorenzo and Casanova. 

The other strand involves a prominent Italian film director, also over 60, played by Servillo, who while shooting a “Casanova’s Return” costumer falls in love, and impregnates, a very young woman “who has nothing to do with the film world,” Salvatores said. The director noted that he wants to shoot the present-day portion of his upcoming pic in black-and-white, while the part involving the 18th century-set Casanova pic will be in color. Besides Servillo, the rest of the cast is being decided.

Shooting on “Casanova’s Return,” which is budgeted at €7 million ($8.4 million), is set to start in Venice in September. The film is being co-produced by Marco Cohen, Fabrizio Donvito, Benedetto Habib and Daniel Campos Pavoncelli via their Indiana Production shingle, with RAI Cinema and support from the Veneto region. They are seeking international co-production partners.

“Salvatores is a master in depicting different generations coming to terms with crucial transitions in their existences and identities,” said RAI Cinema chief Paolo Del Brocco. “We are glad to continue to stand by one of Italy’s most beloved auteurs,” he added.

The prolific Salvatores’ most recent feature is road movie “Volare,” which launched at the Venice Festival in 2019, followed by his life in lockdown doc “It Was Spring Outside,” which launched from the Rome Film Festival in 2020 and is being sold at the EFM by RAI Com, and upcoming “Comedians,” an adaptation of the eponymous theater piece by British playwright Trevor Griffiths.


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