Cannes 2013: Venus In Fur Review


Adapted from a play of the same name by David Ives, Venus In Fur of course concerns the verbal sparring between actress in the making, Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner), and uptight, cantankerous director Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) who reluctantly gives her an audition seemingly against his better judgement after a bad day of auditions. On one hand, this is an actors' film: a sparsely populated tight landscape that is heavy on dialogue and merits performance over everything else, and both Seigner and Amalric prove themselves entirely up to the task. On the other, this is Roman Polanski at his finest. to the extent that it doesn't actually feel like one of his one films. Over the course of the film's 96-minute run-time, we see Vanda slowly breaking down Thomas, getting into his head and using her irresistible sexual confidence to pull him apart, and to explore the wider issue of gender politics. Vanda helps Thomas discover that he actually likes to be dominated, resulting in a hilarious and sexually loaded shift in the power dynamic, with Vanda becoming the "director" in an entirely different manner. And it's all achieved with nuanced touches by Polanski, whose camera work perfectly deals with the issue that the chamber piece could well have been too stagy to really capture the imagination.
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.