PARIS, FRANCE--(Marketwired - Nov 29, 2013) - Venus in Fur is Polanski's latest film debut and has an excellent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, scoring 88% from the critics as of today. It originally premiered at the 2013 Cannes Festival. It is adapted from David Ives' play by the same name. The film premiered in Polish theatres on November 8th, and in French theatres on November 13th. Sundance Select has purchased the distribution rights for the United States, but a release date has not yet been announced.
Venus in Fur follows the story of Thomas as he attempts to cast the film's femme fatale female lead in his new play based on the novel Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher Masoch. The movie begins with Thomas spacing along theater stage complaining about the lack of telling all the women he saw the auditions for the day. Seigner enters, late for the audition, and convinces him to read the play with her. What starts as an "innocent" play reading and audition quickly escalates into a battle of the sexes. Soon, it's revealed Vanda knows the play by heart, and the roles reverse, with the actress exerting power over the director, much like what is actually depicted in the novel itself.
A play within a movie, sexually charged and frisky, the film exemplifies the sadomasochist/victim relationship, much like many of Polanski's other films. The key difference here is the roles quickly reverse in this scenario, suggesting that the director actually wants the abuse, and welcomes it. That is part of what makes the dynamic so interesting -- Amalric closely resembles a young Polanski, and plays the part opposite the director's wife. It is possible the audience is getting a peek into the lives of Polanski and Seigner off-screen.
This is a two-person cast, featuring the director's wife, Emmanuelle Seigner as Vanda Jordan, and Mathieu Amalric as the director, Thomas Novacheck. The chemistry between them on screen is amazing. There is an interesting undertone, as Amalric could double as a stand-in for the young Polanski. It's thought to be a nod to the audience speaking volumes about the actor-director dynamic, and could speak volumes about the truth of the relationship Polanski really shares with Seigner.
This isn't the first time these two have been on-screen together. This film brings the two back together for the first time since they starred together in Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."
The entire film takes place in the theatre, so while the audience may get bored with the lack of scene changes, it eliminates the distraction of where the characters are, and helps draw the audience into the story.
What Critics Have to Say
Venus in Fur has received many praises from critics. Critic Neil M. Smith says, "Polanski's follow-up to his film adaptation of the award-winning play 'Carnage' is another adaptation of an award-winning play (in this case an erotic two-hander by David Ives) set in a sole location -- in 'Carnage' the action unfolded in a cramped apartment, in 'Venus in Fur,' a theater. Polanski's wife and frequent collaborator Emmanuelle Seigner gives a wildly engaging performance as Vanda, an actress who shows up late to an audition for Thomas (Mathieu Amalric), a writer-director with some sadomasochist issues. What transpires over the course of their meeting is a battle of the sexes, where both weave in and out of playing Thomas' characters, blurring the line between what's written in his play and what's happening in reality."
We will have to wait and see what it does in the United States market, but with the buzz it has generated abroad, we can expect audiences here to enjoy the film. The Venus in Fur in French is titled as "La Vénus à la fourrure" and currently holds a 98% audience wants to see rating on Rottentomatoes.com.