She taught me the most valuable thing in the world.
And what did she teach you?
That nothing is more sensual than pain. That nothing is more exciting than degradation.
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Behind the credits are images of classical artworks depicting Venus. Titles, in French as per the credits, are as follows - Titian: Vénus a sa toilette (1555) (National Gallery of Art, Washington) Ferdinand Bol: Vénus et Adonis (1658) (Rijksmuseum) Titian: Vénus a sa toilette (1555) Rubens: Vénus au miroir (1616) Rubens: La Toilette de Vénus (1608) Diego Velasquez: Venus au miroir (1651) Hans Memling: La vanité (1485) École de Fontainebleu: : La Toilette de Vénus (around 1550) Sandro Biotticelli: La naissance de Vénus (1485) Alexandre Cabanel: La naissance de Vénus (1863) Emil Jacobs: Vénus allongé et Cupidon (1839) Nicolas Poussin: Vénus dormant avec l'Amour (1628) Titian: Danae (1546) Rembrandt: Danae (1636) Joseph Helmz l'ancien: Vénus endormie (around 1600) Alessandro Allon: Vénus et Cupidon (16th century) Titian: Danae (1544) Lambert Sustris: Vénus et l'Amour (1515) Domenico Zampieri: Vénus (17th century) Jacopo Palma: Vénus allongée (1520) (Bridgeman Art Library) The final image is of the "Venus De Milo". See more »
There is a lot in the book that is never said or explored. Perhaps the repressed nature of the time and place, of the characters, of the situation is what makes it such compelling material. The play, and the film, bring out all that can be said, and more. The blurring between the modern day actress auditioning for the play as the director/writer reads the male part and the actual play based on the book is done exquisitely. Seigner is an excellent Jackal and Hyde; she basically plays three different women, and a fourth hidden one that comes out in the end. Amalric is a superb choice for this role with his mousy, intellectual temperament a perfect complement to Seigner's looks and physique. Both actors deliver a mesmerizing performance.
What was most surprising for me is how much we laughed during the film. It was really hilarious, and the whole theater laughed throughout the film. The contrast between the modern day woman and the character in the book/play, the helplessness of the director against the force of the exquisitely lower class actress, the phone conversations with his "fiancée," and the list goes on... Of course, the film is not without its serious moments. In fact, I'd say it is the see-saw nature of the whole thing that really captivates, where one moment you are laughing at the name of the fiancée's dog, and the next you witness the director reading lines on his knees asking to be enslaved unconditionally and the next the actress and the director are having a yelling match about the sexist nature of the book/play.
Recommended for those who are not afraid of the intellectual analysis of art combined with the absurd and ridiculous juxtaposition of the modern and the outdated, the philistine and the intellectual, male and female.
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