Venus in Fur’s Power Play
By R. Kurt Osenlund
Photo courtesy of Guy Ferrandis (Sundance Selects Release)
Art imitates life many times over in Venus in Fur, the wickedly chic new film version of the hit Broadway play, itself inspired by the 1870 novel Venus in Furs, by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (whose surname spawned the M in BDSM). In the movie (set to open June 20), Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) is crafting his own play based on Sacher-Masoch’s tale of obsession. When he meets Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner), a dubious actress who mysteriously shares the name of the play’s heroine, the director becomes infatuated, just like his leading male character, Severin. (Still with us?) As Thomas and Vanda start rehearsing scenes, power begins to shift and the lines between fiction and reality, humor and fury, even male and female, increasingly blur.
All of this is filmed in a sleepy Paris theater by Seigner’s husband, Roman Polanksi, a master at capturing drama in tight spaces. It’s clear from the start that Thomas is a kind of Polanski proxy, meaning Seigner was, in a sense, being directed by her husband while acting alongside him. “He even looks a bit like Roman,” Seigner says of Amalric’s character. “But Thomas is a lousy director, so that’s different.” A former model and longtime supporting star in films (some of them helmed by Polanski), Seigner relished the work’s feminist slant, which fully blooms when Vanda emerges as a surreal quasi-goddess. “Being a model was boring,” Seigner says. “So far, this is the best role of my career.”
Watch the trailer below: