Thursday, July 30, 2015

La Vénus à la fourrure (Venus in Fur) (2013)

Director: Roman Polanski
Writers:  David Ives, Roman Polanski
Cast:      Emmanuelle Seigner, Matthieu Amalric
Language: French

An actress, who came late for an audition, tries to convince a director how she's perfect for a role in his upcoming production. The entire film features only these two characters and is totally dialog driven, which is largely them reading the lines of the play. It is based on the play of same name by American playwright David Eves, which itself was inspired by Leopold von Sacher-Mascoh's novel 'Venus in Furs'. The word Masochism is of course derived from the name of the Austrian author and that is a trivia you get from this film.

Emmanuelle Seigner is real-life partner of Roman Polanski and the way Matthieu Amalric plays his role is like he is mimicking Roman Polanski. So the boundary between what is fiction and what is real is really blurred, like it is in the film itself between the two characters, which is again blurred in the play within the play. So that should itself be enough to say that the film is bit of a mindfuck and am not sure entirely what it is going for in terms of an actual plot. The surface level impression is that the actress is a feminist activist and is irked by the sexism in the play and the whole thing is a charade to punish the director for it.  
I think we can give Polanski the benefit of doubt and assume that the film is not really about the plot but how audience's moods are affected by the film. The director in it represents the audience, and like us, he is also exasperated by the actress who is holding him up by her late arrival and demand for an audition. Even though the poster of the film convey a sensuality, there is not much of that on offer. But as soon as the audition starts, we are intrigued by it and the director also goes through the same change of emotions and culminates with the absurd ending. I might be being pretentious here but that is what I think he was going for.

Overall, it ends up being a good watch even though I was exasperated by it initially. It is difficult to follow such dialog heavy films when you are relying entirely on subtitles and to make matters worse, there was a slight lag in the print that I saw. The budget must have been meager since the entire film was set in one place and involved only two actors. It is Polanski's first non-English-language film in 51 years. His previous feature film, 'Carnage', also had this play like feel to it and is the best one among his recent outings.

Rating: 3/5