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Venus In Fur

2014-08-15 14:22
What's it about:

From Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski comes this drama comedy centering on Thomas (Mathieu Amalric), a writer-director of a new play, who, after a long, unsuccessful day trying to cast his leading lady, is about to head home when actress Vanda (Emmanuele Seigner) arrives in a whirlwind. To Thomas's amazement, Vanda shows great understanding of the character and knows every line by heart. And as the audition progresses, the intensity is redoubled and the attraction of Thomas turns into obsession.

What we thought:

Venus in Fur is as sexually exotic as they come, but still retains a level of class and poise that you don’t necessarily expect from a film that deals with the themes of S&M (which the play director vehemently denies ironically). Whatever you may think of his personal life, Roman Polanski is a skilled director that turns filmmaking into an art.

The plot seems pretty straightforward in the beginning, but if you have never seen the play it gets very weird very fast. A director trying to put on a play based on an 1870s book that coined the term ‘masochism’ becomes enthralled and later trapped by a late actress who auditions for the role of his lead. But as they act out the parts, they become the twisted characters of his play and it exposes his most inner inadequacies and prejudices.

After this though, I am still not sure what happened. Vanda, the seducing actress, calls out the director a lot on his anti-women rhetoric, and when she finally reveals why she’s there, you are left with the feeling that this is still not her true intentions. What she hoped to achieve with her tricks I have no idea and at one point I wasn’t even sure if she was human, but rather a goddess come to punish the director for his sexism.

Besides still being helluva confused by the finale of the film, the acting from Emmanuelle Seigner (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and Mathieu Amalric (Munich, Quantum of Solace) was on another plane of calibre. Even their Wanda and Severin characters within the play was such stark contrasts to their actual characters that it felt like the film had four people instead of two. And when they reversed roles, their diversity just blows your mind away.

It is no wonder that Seigner’s performance won her the ICS Cannes Award and the film as a whole was a contender for the Palm d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. It also swept up the awards at France’s César Awards Best Director, Best Actress and Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

As for the set design, you really felt like you were watching a stage production, with a lot of effort put into the costume design and lighting to create that theatre atmosphere. Anyone in the theatre business, love art films and is into their literature will appreciate this film much more than a mainstream crowd.

As someone who is not as involved in theatre, I felt like I missed something from what the film was saying about the relationship between a director and his actor/actress. But the comedy and delicious French kept me entertained enough, with some superb lines, my favourite being “You sold your soul for alliteration.”

If you fall into the categories mentioned above and feel like giving your brain a good wash and twist, then you should go experience Venus in Fur at Cinema Nouveau’s Erotic Art-House Fest, and explore the dodgier side of art.

Another stage-to-film adaptation, Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur is a twisted comedy where superb acting meets a bizarre and puzzling plot, leaving you unsure of whether or not you actually liked it.
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