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 Live Music
More Film...
The Midwife
Catherines the Great

The French-language title of director Martin Provost’s latest femme-centric drama is Sage Femme, a term that technically means midwife, as in the medical profession, but also literally describes a “well-behaved woman.” The double meaning is particularly apt when applied to the…

more »
Mother!
Something nasty this way comes

Writer/director Darren Aronofsky wants to have his commercial cake and chomp down on some vexing personal issues, too, in Mother!, a very Rosemary’s Baby-like intimate horror tale that definitely grabs your attention and eventually soars well over the top to make the bold concluding…

more »
Marjorie Prime
Mind over memory

The haunting and allusive Marjorie Prime is a sci-fi film set in the near future but its emotional resonance is bracingly immediate. Based on the 2014 play of the same name by Jordan Harrison, and written and directed by Michael Almereyda, it is, in the largest sense, a movie about memory.…

more »
Events
Today
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Lynden Farmers Market

12:00pm|Front Street

Together for Peace

6:00pm|Majestic

Stream Tour

6:00pm|Whatcom Creek

Day of Peace observes those displaced by war

6:00pm

Trash Talk

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Travel Talk

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Balkan Folk Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Chuckanut Radio Hour with Nancy Pearl

7:00pm|Village Books

Authentic Illusionist Jay Ownehouse

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

2020 Solutions Sept 2017
Tomorrow
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

Ferndale Farmers Market

3:00pm|Centennial Riverwalk Park

Foof Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Farm Tunes

6:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Oktoberfest Cruises

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

The Last Outrageous Women

7:00pm|Village Books

7-Day Dance Festival Finale

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Forever Plaid

7:30pm|Conway Muse

The Mousetrap

7:30pm| Bellingham Theatre Guild

Friday Night Flicks

7:30pm|Van Zandt Community Hall

Figmentally, Circus for All

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Welcome Back Students Shows

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

2020 Solutions Sept 2017 BOB_2017
Saturday
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Oktoberfest Cruises

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Forever Plaid

7:30pm|Conway Muse

The Mousetrap

7:30pm| Bellingham Theatre Guild

Welcome Back Students Shows

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Figmentally, Circus for All

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

South Whatcom Birding Walks

8:00am|South Whatcom Library

Harvest Happens

8:00am|Bellewood Acres

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

Southside Rummage Sale

8:30am| Our Saviour's Lutheran Church

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverfront Plaza

Make It and Take it

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|North Fork Library, Nugents Corner

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Little Mountain Trail 10K

10:00am|Carpenter Creek Winery

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Salmon Sighting

10:00am|Thompson Creek Bridge

Pesto Perfecto

11:00am|Ferndale Library

Council of the Animals

11:00am|Boulevard Park

Trial Vineyard Open House

12:00pm|Cloud Mountain Farm Center

Sedro-Woolley Brewfest

2:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

The Art of Living

3:00pm|Deming Library

River Walk

3:00pm| Horseshoe Bend Trailhead.

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Kulshan CLT Community Party

5:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Democrats Dinner

5:30pm| Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa

BowEdison Anniversary Party

5:30pm|BowEdison

Fall Demo Derby

6:30pm|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Moment

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Salsa Night

9:30pm|Cafe Rumba

see our complete calendar »

Trove MBT Janis Joplin Bellingham Farmer’s Market Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books 2020 Solutions Sept 2017 BOB_2017