Roman Polanski's first non-English-language feature in 51 years. See more »
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.
See more »
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 »
A witty 96 minutes of repartee and gamesman(woman)ship
"She taught me the most valuable thing in the world." Thomas (Matthew Amalric)
"And what did she teach you?" Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner)
" That nothing is more sensual than pain. That nothing is more exciting than degradation." Thomas
Roman Polanski's Venus in Fur, adapted from Leopold Van Sacher-Masoch's novel, Venus in Furs, is a two hander with a first-time stage director and adapter, Thomas (Polanski), and an actress (Seigner, Polanski's wife) trying out for a part in his play at an old Parisian theater. It's as raw a film as it is delicate.
He's at the end of a long audition day with women who don't fit the part, and she straggles in when he's ready to go, in no mood for her tardiness or her lack of sophistication, much less her bondage outfit with dog collar. This time pain hardly seems sensual, until Vanda pulls out all the personality stops by eventually auditioning him.
As in the play of life itself, nothing is as it seems; as in Polanski's other worlds, identity is a matter of power. She challenges him about his misconception of her talent (she's made for the part—even has the character's name) and proceeds to take a dominant role in acting and interpreting. In other words, the tables turn while woman takes the traditionally male aggressive role and he becomes her slave and even takes her part. When she ties him to a gigantic phallic cactus, the absurdity is painless, a testimony to imaginative stagecraft and pleasant Freud.
Polanski, never afraid to deal with strong women in his films (Tess and Carnage come to mind immediately), as well as the real-life tragedy of his wife's murder, places Vanda prominently in each of her frames; his surrogate, Thomas, even looks like Polanski's younger self. Thus, the film becomes a convoluted feminist tome while it also comments on the relationship between actors and their directors. Whatever it all may mean about Roman Polanski's personal relationships with women, it is a witty 96 minutes of repartee and gamesmanship, where roles are fluid, both with characters and actors.
The pain of his self revelations, which she forces him to see, turns out to be a pleasure for a playwright directing for the first time and facing an actress gifted and formidable. Both actors, by the way, are exemplary.
"It's 'a little love' you suggest? No, it's the power that interests you." Thomas
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