Heath Ledger could well succeed in making equal numbers of men and women jealous this year: He goes from falling for hunky Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain to romancing lovely Sienna Miller in this new take on the swashbuckling lothario. ''The true Casanova story is a great movie, but it's certainly not this one,'' says director Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), who likens his reality-light adventure (polished by Shakespeare in Love scribe Tom Stoppard) to ''a glass of champagne.''
Despite its effervescence, the film remained grounded well, actually, floating in a very real setting: Venice, where production bobbed around for six months in 2004. ''We had all these challenges shipping the cast and crew and equipment around on barges,'' Hallström recalls. ''When it was high tide, you couldn't get under the bridges. All these challenges were just part of the fun!''