"Venus in Fur" (La Vénus à la Fourrure, France 2013) directed by Roman Polanski opens in San Francisco on July 11 for a one -week run at the Landmark theatres, a two-person theatre production by the American playwright David Ives adapted to the screen. The film, which debuted at the Cannes film festival last May, received excellent reviews.
In the opening scene, the camera wanders down a Parisian boulevard on a dark autumn evening, makes a right turn and enters an empty theater. Inside is a director getting ready to go home. In a few moments, in walks a woman soaked from the rain who wants to audition for him. She is late for an audition. The director's powers of persuasion to ask her to leave are ineffective because she is a cunning and intriguing woman. He has previously remarked to his girlfriend on the phone that either hookers or dykes have auditioned for the part and there are no intelligent women. Yet the part he wrote calls for a dominatrix in a black leather outfit with a fetish for fur so what does he expect? Also the play centers on a sadomasochistic relationship between a man and a woman. The late auditioner seems to have been sent by the goddess Venus to earth to teach this director a lesson.
Emmanuelle Seigneur, Polanski’s real life wife, plays Vanda opposite Mathieu Amalric as Thomas. Vanda suggests that she and Thomas read a few pages from the script since she is already there. Seigneur's range of voice when getting into character is excellent. She plays opposite a skilled Amalric in a film that features a brilliant screenplay by David Ives adapted to French by Polanski.
"Venus in Fur" was heralded as a feminist play at Cannes for as Vanda rehearses with Thomas, she increasingly points out all the faults of the play and the lack of understanding that he has for women. The two actors make this an engaging and exciting spectacle.