Venus in Fur (La Vénus à la fourrure) is a 2013 French drama film directed by Roman Polanski, based on the play of the same name by American playwright David Ives. The play itself was inspired by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s novel Venus in Furs. The film premiered in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival on 25 May.
Synopsis: Alone in a Paris theatre after a long day of auditioning actresses for the lead role in his new play, writer-director Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) complains on the phone about the poor calibre of talent he has seen. No actress has what it takes to play his 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 theatre when actress Vanda (Emmanuelle 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. But 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-down to buying props, reading source materials and learning every line by heart. The likeness proves to be much more than skin-deep. As the extended “audition” builds momentum, Thomas moves from attraction to obsession… (Festival de Cannes).
Begoña and I went to see La Vénus à la fourrure yesterday. The film was released in Spain on 31 January. I must admit that Polanski, regardless of the view that I have about him as a person, as a film director is one of my all-time favourites since I first saw Knife in the Water quite some time ago. And I believe I’ve seen almost all his films. I very much liked the first part of La Vénus à la fourrure but, about the middle of the story, I lost interest. Perhaps the topic is not for my taste and my limited knowledge of the French Language did not help me much to follow the dialogue. It did not help me either having to read the subtitles in Spanish. The actors’ performance is superb and it has a magnificent mise-en-scene.
At The Hollywood Reporter, Venus in Fur: Cannes Review , David Rooney wrote: ‘The play suffered from mid-section slackness and its back-and-forth dynamic grows mildly repetitive in both stage and screen versions. But the adaptation – co-authored by Ives and Polanski from a translation by Abel Gerschenfeld – is arguably tauter, even if the film shows its hand too early with clues that Vanda is a far more enigmatic figure than she appears. But there’s a masterfully light touch at work, both from the director and his two wonderful actors. They make this chamber piece lip-smacking entertainment, giving the dense text the semblance of more intellectual heft or sexual transgressiveness than it ultimately contains.’