Tony Award-winning Playwright David Ives’ Venus In Fur is, currently, the most produced play in the United States. Why? At the Q&A following the Tribeca Film Festival’s premiere of Writer/Director Roman Polanski’s film version of the play, Ives related a story on the effect the Broadway play had on an audience member, an effect that would probably have been enhanced by the power of Polanski’s masterpiece.*
Writer/Director Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) has spent an unsuccessful day auditioning 35 actresses for the lead in his new play and is about to go home, when a 36th candidate, Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner), enters the theater, soaking wet from the storm, outside, and begs for a shot at the role.
After every effort to kick out what appears to be an ignorant hooker, Thomas becomes intrigued, when Vanda pulls from her bag a dress appropriate to the 1870 period of his play. He relents and, as Vanda begins to audition, she becomes the exact character which he imagined for the role. But, as the evening progresses, she becomes more than an actress and the power roles reverse as she begins to rewrite the piece and plumbs the writer/director’s character and soul.
Is she a muse? Is this a dream? Or, a nightmare?
Those are questions, hovering in the back of viewers’ minds from the outset. However, the pace of the Polanski’s and Ives’ superb dialogue is so quick, the camerawork of Cinematographer Pawel Edelmon, is so fabulous, the music of Composer Alexandre Desplat is so powerful and the sound effects of Lucien Balibar are so interesting that the audience is too amused and transfixed to dwell on such issues . Answers are not needed until discussions after the film is over.
With Venus In Fur, Polanski, again, demonstrates how powerful a filmmaker he is. And, Seigner and Amalric have never been better.
I give Venus In Fur a 5 out of 5 and look forward to seeing it again.
* If you want to know the abovementioned story Ives told, email me and I’ll send it to you. It’s very funny.