Synopsis: Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway play by David Ives, which itself was based on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s groundbreaking novella, VENUS IN FUR is the latest film from master filmmaker Roman Polanski. Alone in a Paris theater after a long day of auditioning actresses for his new play, writer-director Thomas (Amalric) complains that no actress he’s seen has what it takes to play the lead female character: a woman who enters into an agreement with her male counterpart to dominate him as her slave. Thomas is about to leave the theater when actress Vanda (Seigner) bursts in, a whirlwind of erratic – and, it turns out, erotic – energy. At first she seems to embody everything Thomas has been lamenting. She is pushy, foul-mouthed, desperate and ill-prepared – or so it seems. When Thomas finally, reluctantly, agrees to let her try out for the part, he is stunned and captivated by her transformation. Not only is Vanda a perfect fit (even sharing the character’s name), but she apparently has researched the role exhaustively, learned her lines by heart and even bought her own props. The likeness proves to be much more than skin-deep. As the extended “audition” builds momentum, Thomas moves from attraction to obsession until, with Vanda taking an ever more dominant role, the balance of power shifts completely. (C) IFC
Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the classic stage production Venus in Fur opens in theaters this summer over a year after its debut at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. It is ideal counter programming for adults seeking more substance than style in movies. Thankfully, a talented and established filmmaker such as Mr. Polanski offers both as well as two great on screen performances. What really makes Venus in Fur work was the chemistry between the lead (and only) actors Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric. Venus in Fur brings back both Seigner and Amalric who co-starred in Julian Schnabel’s outstanding The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
The playful, kinky tension is on display in a relatively brisk 90 minute feature narrative. Roman Polanski’s directing these two accomplished actors sets the stage on fire. We see actors dominate one another in various moments in Venus in Fur, but it is Mr. Polanski commanding every moment behind the camera. From the dreary beginning to the cheeky end, Polanski’s Venus in Fur held my attention and was a fun tango between the sexes.
I rate Venus in Fur a 7.5 out of 10.