When familiar with Roman Polanski’s previous film Carnage (2012), it is almost impossible not to draw links with the director’s new release. But even if Venus In Fur echoes its predecessor in its mise-en-scène, it completely changes the tone of the narration, creating a new experience that evolves throughout.
As it was the case in Carnage, the cast is very limited and the film’s set is made to render the theatrical atmosphere of the play Polanski is adapting. The whole film is evolving around Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner’s astonishing performances. The synopsis holds in a nutshell: an actress tries to convince a director to hire her as the lead role for his next production. Vanda, that’s her name, is just a grotesque nobody as she walks in the theatre with the worst excuses possible so as to why she is late to her supposed audition. She somehow manages to trap Thomas, the director, into watching her acting out the first scene of the play.
Venus In Fur’s strength undoubtedly lies within the matrix Vanda and Thomas have and its fascinating mutations. The narration soon seem to be a living entity, its heart beating to the characters’ interpretation of the play. As the film goes, the plot thickens, the characters become more complex and their identity blurs. Considering it is all happening in one room, with neither flashbacks nor flashforwards, the film is a real tour de force and it is clear that the director fully handles both his cast and production.
What leaves Venus In Fur a star away from perfection, however, is probably the pace of the narration itself. Whilst its evolution is absolutely bewitching, it might be raised that the film has a very unequal rhythm, the last third of the film considerably stepping away from the first two. The quirkiness of the final act might not be of everyone’s taste, either. Venus In Fur received a wide range of praises at Cannes last year, it is a true pleasure to see the film finally being released in the UK after a rather silent presence in cinemas couple of months ago.
Venus In Fur (2013), directed by Roman Polanski, is distributed on DVD and Blu-Ray by Artificial Eye, Certificate 15. Watch the trailer below: