"}
Film

Venus in Fur

All the world’s a stage

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wickedly smart and wickedly playful, Roman Polanski’s adaptation of David Ives’ Tony-nominated Venus in Fur works on so many levels, it’s almost dizzying. A two-character piece about power, perversion, subjugation, seduction, the battle of the sexes, and the relationship between an actress and her director, a director and his star, the play opened Off-Broadway in 2010, moved to Broadway in 2011, and subsequently has been staged all over the place.

Polanski’s version—translated into French, and starring his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, and Mathieu Amalric, who bears a striking resemblance to Polanski—opens with a melodramatic sweep of music (Alexandre Desplat can do no wrong), as a camera rolls up to the swinging front doors of a theater and takes us inside.

There’s an audition notice taped to the poster of the play about to depart (a musical of Stagecoach), and inside, a wildly frustrated Thomas Novacheck (Amalric) is on the phone, griping about the hopelessness of the casting process. None of the women he’s tested for the role of Vanda von Dunajev, a 19th-century consort of icy intelligence and elegance, sprung from the pages of the Austrian novella by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, has come anywhere close.

Novacheck has adapted this bristling 1870 erotic fantasy, about a woman who agrees to take on a Viennese intellectual as her slave. The term masochism was born from the book and its author’s name.

Then, in walks a rain-soaked, mascara-streaked actress, desperately late for her audition—and, at first glance, absolutely wrong for the part. Dressed in streetwalker gear, with a dog collar and a tattoo, she’s as far from the character she aspires to play as you, or Novacheck, can imagine.

That her name happens to be Vanda—Vanda Jourdain—is only the first thing to throw the director. By the end of their time together, beginning with Novacheck reluctantly agreeing to let her do the first few pages of the script, he’s been thrown around more than a basketball at an NBA game. He’s been thrown under the proverbial bus, too.

Seigner’s transformation from a seemingly clueless ditz (she misses the point, she muddles the words ambivalence and ambiguity) to a woman of uncanny perception is astonishing. And her Vanda continues to astonish Novacheck. Without laying a hand on him (well, for the first two-thirds of the film, anyway), Amalric’s haughty artist looks increasingly stunned, as if someone has spun his head around, humiliated him, seduced him, shaken him to his core.

Set, as it is, in a theater, Venus in Fur is also very much about the process of bringing a performance to life. It’s about stagecraft, and about the craftiness of (good) actors, about power changing hands—from the playwright to the person assigned to inhabit the role. The film should be required viewing in acting classes.

It should be required viewing in classes about human sexuality, sexual dynamics, psychology, too.

Hell, it should just be required viewing.

SVCR-0603 Buffet_ 770x150 CW
More Film...
Southside With You
Barack gets the girl

A 20-something woman living at home prepares for a day out. Her parents tease her as she fixes her hair. Is it a date? No, just a work associate, a Harvard law student with the firm for the summer, taking her to a community meeting to discuss “broken faucets and underfunded schools.”…

more »
Hell or High Water
Making them like they used to

Oh, they do not make heartland crime dramas like they did back in the ’70s—smart, ornery, low of budget and high of attitude. Steeped in seedy characters and lousy luck. Above all lacking in the least amount of body fat, moral or cinematic.

Two-Lane Blacktop, Vanishing Point, Badlands.

more »
Florence Foster Jenkins
The flat lady sings

Perhaps she was a tragic figure, or a clinical case worthy of Oliver Sacks, or the incarnation of a dishonest middlebrow culture. But in the end, Stephen Frears’s enjoyable, sentimental movie turns this bizarre real-life figure into a version of Eddie the Eagle, swooping and crashing…

more »
Events
Today
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

A Little Night Music

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Discover Birch Bay Days

10:00am|Birch Bay Drive

A Swinging Weekend

12:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Chuckanut Classic

6:30am|Boundary Bay Brewery

Veterans Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Post 1585

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Run to Fight Blindness

9:00am|Cascadia Eye

Marsh Mucking

10:00am|Tennant Lake Interpretive Center

Anacortes Open Streets

11:00am|Commercial Avenue

International Concert Series Finale

2:00pm|Peace Arch Provincial Park

Cirque Literary Journal Reading

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Chuckanut Writers Info Session

4:00pm|Village Books,

Sunday Night Fusion

7:00pm|Presence Studio

Bellingham Farmer’s Market Andrew Subin
Tomorrow
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

We Grow Market

3:00pm|Northwest Youth Services

Music Enrichment Project Meet and Greet

4:00pm|Piper Music

Open Mic

7:00pm|Village Books

Get Out More Tour

7:30pm|Backcountry Essentials

Poetrynight

8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Guffawingham

9:30pm|Green Frog

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books
Tuesday
Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Hiking Basics

6:00pm|REI

Final History Sunset Cruise

6:00pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Final BIFT

6:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Amnesty International Meeting

7:00pm|Community Food Co-op

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

see our complete calendar »

Bellingham Farmer’s Market Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Northwood Steak and Crab Village Books Artifacts Wine Bar Andrew Subin Swinomish 2016