5 hours ago
Monday, 23 June 2014
Film: 'LA VENUS A LA FOURRURE' / ''VENUS IN FUR'
The ever-watchable Mathieu Amalric is here the director of a play he has adapted from a late 19th century work of Sacher-Masoch (that same, of course, from whom the word 'masochism' is derived). As the film starts he has finished auditioning, unsuccessfully, too many hopefuls for the single female part and is just packing his things to go home for the night when, who should brusquely appear but gum-chewing, pushy, Emanuelle Seigner (a.k.a Mrs Polanski), all dishevelled from the obligatory thunderstorm raging, and absolutely determined to audition for the part despite his weariness and lack of enthusiasm to see yet another likely failure. He reluctantly gives in to her rude insistence and, once she starts at the beginning of the play - who would have guessed it? - she's all sophistication, elegance, poise, gently-spoken and demure. Not only that, but apart from the briefest of glances at the script, she's absolutely word-perfect. (Goodness me! There must be a real talent at work here!)
He himself reads/plays the single male role with her even though he says he's a director rather than an actor, but he gradually gets drawn into the character he's playing.
The two of them keep jumping in and out of the script, she at some points criticising his play as being untrue to the female character, and telling him off for his flat reading of his own lines. They argue. Then each time they carry on as though nothing happened. And so it continues - until the S/M element starts to take prominence. However, remember that the play being read is set 150 years ago so there's nothing too graphic to be seen other than she in her dominatrix skimpies.
After things start to heat up between the players there's the question of exactly who is dominating whom, but for me it was clear within the first few minutes what path this film would take. Anyone who remembers Polanski's much better 1976 film, 'The Tenant' will know too.
At least twice I found myself falling asleep, even though it's only slightly over an hour and a half long. I just wasn't that interested in either of them. However, I did hold out to the end although the totally unsurprising 'twist' in the final minutes didn't exactly set the film alight.
In my books a failure though, damning by faint praise, it's not the worst I've seen this year..........................3/10