In overseas markets, A Destiny Of Her Own is also known as
Dangerous Beauty, a stronger and far more appropriate title.
This elaborate historical melodrama is set in the decadent
Venice of the late 16th century, when women were still treated as
second class citizens. Only the courtesans, in essence highly paid
hookers, were well read and educated. They were also permitted access
to areas, such as libraries, normally off limits to ordinary women.
In the bedroom, the courtesans had the ear of kings, bishops and many
of the wealthiest and most powerful men in society, and often
influenced policy decisions. "A courtesan is a force of nature,
cloaked in civility," explains Jacqueline Bissett.
This glossy, visually sumptuous period piece looks at the life
and fortunes of Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack, from Braveheart,
etc), one of the most famous of Venice's courtesans. Although
Veronica is in love with the handsome Marco Vernier (Rufus Sewell),
she cannot marry him because she is below his noble station. His
parents have arranged a more fitting marriage, for the good of the
family fortune and the stability of Venice, of course. Veronica's
mother (Bissett), a former courtesan herself, trains her in the
bedroom skills that will enable her to enter this hypocritical
male-dominated world and have access to a life style that would
normally have been denied her. There's plenty of wit, sex, nudity,
scandal and courtly intrigue in this bawdy, spirited, overdone yet
moderately entertaining costume drama. Not content to explore the lot
of the beautiful heroine, writer Jeannine Dominy also throws the
plague, the inquisition, and a witchcraft trial into the busy drama.
Somehow, A Destiny Of Her Own tends to lose focus towards the end.
The film has a beautiful chocolate box quality, thanks to
Czech cinematographer Bojan Bazelli, who gives the film a glossy
surface. The costumes, impressive set design and gorgeous locations
also add to the rich texture, and bring the period to life. However,
the computer generated recreation of 16th century Venice becomes a
little obvious on the big screen. Director Marshall Herskovitz hails
from a background in television drama (thirtysomething, Family), and
his direction here becomes a little pedestrian and betrays his
The cast throw themselves into this period romp with a sense
of abandon that adds energy to proceedings. McCormack brings a
contemporary flavour to her role as the feisty, intelligent heroine.
In a rare screen appearance, Bissett brings a touch of class to her
role as her sympathetic mother. Sewell is good as the brooding
aristocratic Marco, while the very busy Oliver Platt (The Impostors,
Bulworth, etc) provides some humour as the quick witted court poet
Maffio with whom Veronica has some entertaining clashes. Veterans
Jeroen Krabbe, Fred Ward and Joanna Cassidy are wasted in undemanding,
Copyright © 1998 Greg King