Top positive review
14 people found this helpful
3.5 stars... Roman Polanski's big screen adaptation of the David Ives' theatre play
on 8 April 2014
"Venus In Fur" (2013 release from France; 96 min.) is the latest film from Roman Polanski. The film is an adaptation of the award-winning play Venus in Fur by David Ives, itself an adaptation of the infamous 1870 's&m' novel Venus in Furs by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. As the movie opens, we see Thomas (played by Mathieu Amalric) alone in a theatre in Paris and lamenting to his wife on the phone how badly the auditions have gone that day for the female lead role of his play. Then a woman arrives at the theatre, intending to audition of the play but too late. She tries to nevertheless convince Thomas to give her a shot and reluctantly he agrees. We learn that her name is Vanda (played by Emmanuelle Seigner, a/k/a Mrs. Polanski in real life), and by chance the play's lead female is also named Vanda. As she starts her audition, Vanda hits it out of the park and completely impresses Thomas. To tell you more would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: when the film started, I was somewhat skeptical about it as I realized that this was a very literal adoption of a theatre play: the entire film plays out (in real time it seems) at the audition in the theatre, and there are only 2 performers in the entire film. Then a funny thing happened: once we have come to know the two lead characters, they start moving in and out of their respective character, at certain points playing their real selves, at others points their stage character, and yet at other times eqch other's stage character, so that what starts out as a seeming potentially dull stage adoption film, now becomes a fascinating study of multiples characters. As to the 's&m' aspects of the original 1870 book from which the stage play takes inspiration, they are actually kept to a minimum and are not a major element in the film from a sexual perspective (the domineering takes place at the mind level). Kudos to the two performers, in particular Mathieu Amalric as Thomas, he simply blew me away.
In all, this film turned out to be quite the unexpected surprise for me. I saw this movie during a family visit to Belgium back in November, 2013, and given that this is directed by Polanski and the good buzz this picked up at its premiere earlier this year at the Cannes film festival, one would hope it is only a matter of time before this is released at art-house theatres. "Venus In Fur" is not the greatest film ever, but still worth checking out, be it in the theatre or on DVD/Blu-ray.