Venus In Fur
Director: Roman Polanski
Studio: R.P. Productions | A.S. Films | Monolith Films [Co-production]
Distributor: Artificial Eye
Country: France | Poland
Running Time: 96 minutes (1:35:41)
Region Code: Region B [Locked]
Certificate: 15 (Very strong language, strong sex references)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Original Aspect Ratio)
Video: 1080p High Definition (24fps)
Codec: MPEG-4 | AVC
Audio: French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround | French LPCM 2.0 Stereo
Language: French | German
Subtitles: English [Hardcoded]
Following on from the acclaimed 2011 comedy-drama, Carnage, director Roman Polanski makes an anticipated return with, surprisingly, another theatrical adaptation, here in the form of David Ives’ Tony Award-winning 2010 two-hand play, ‘Venus In Fur’.
Itself inspired by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch‘s (from whose name the term masochism is derived) controversial 1870 novella ‘Venus im Pelz’, Ives’ play-within-a-play centres around one critical and tenacious playwright’s attempts to adapt Sacher-Masoch’s original text for the stage.
After a day of unsuccessful auditions for the female lead in his new play, the frustrated director and adapter (not writer) Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) has failed to find anyone suited to the role. As he is about to leave, the seemingly vulgar, ignorant and highly unsuitable hopeful, Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner) unexpectedly bursts in and demands to read for the part. After much persuasion, Thomas reluctantly agrees to let her read for the role. Within seconds he is transfixed by her immediate transformation into a living apparition of his fictional heroine. However, Vanda’s likeness soon begins to appear to be much more than superficial and as the extended audition builds momentum, Thomas moves from attraction to obsession. Roles are reversed, lines of reality are blurred and dominance soon shifts between the two.
As with Carnage, Polanski’s chamber piece once again affirms the fact that his retreat towards smaller casts and limited environments seems to be a very effective and worthwhile move, calling to mind the skill, themes and vision displayed in such early works as Knife in the Water (1962), Repulsion (1965) and Cul-de-sac (1966).
In the superb pairing of Polanski’s wife of twenty-five years, Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric (whom, it has to be said, does bear a fairly striking resemblance to a young Roman Polanski), we have two captivating performers who genuinely do carry the film along, literally lifting the words of the page. In what could otherwise quite easily have developed into a fairly laborious and dull ninety minutes of cinema, Seigner and Amalric prove outstanding, entrancing the audience throughout and bestowing their characters with an enhanced dimension of wit, humour and depth.
Minimalist, slow-burning and extremely intelligent, Polanski may not breaking any new ground here, however what he does deliver is an immersive and highly effective exploration of blurred reality, power and preconception, perfectly utilising the single location environment to enhance its dark themes and driven along by two expertly pitched performances from deserved César Award nominees, Seigner and Amalric.
Interview Featurette – Featuring Roman Polanski, Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric (0:12:22)
Theatrical Trailer (0:01:41)
Release Date: 28 July, 2014
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