Picks and Pans Review: Dangerous Beauty

updated 03/02/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/02/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

Catherine McCormack, Rufus Sewell

A deliriously woozy costume picture that plays like a bodice buster for the women's studies set, Dangerous Beauty tells the true story of 16th-century Venetian courtesan Veronica Franco. She was a multitalented gal who, in addition to sleeping with scads of powerful men, wrote poetry, swung a mean sword, survived the plague and the Inquisition, and all the while remained true in her heart to her first love, a nobleman unhappily wed to another woman. These two lovers are passionately played by British lookers McCormack (Braveheart) and Sewell (Cold Comfort Farm), who gamely don (and lustfully tear off) their elaborate period dress, enthusiastically declaim the script's florid lines and still manage to look as contemporarily chic as Calvin Klein models. Jacqueline Bisset has several piquant scenes as Franco's mom, a world-weary ex-courtesan. (R)

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