British distributors Artificial Eye have sent us an official trailer for acclaimed director Roman Polanski's latest film Venus in Fur a.k.a. La Vénus à la fourrure (2013), starring Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric. The film will open in theaters across the country on May 30th.
Currently, Venus in Fur is also set to be released on Blu-ray on July 28th. See our listing of this upcoming release here.
Alone in a Paris theatre after a long day of auditioning actresses for the lead role in his new play, writer-director Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) complains on the phone about the poor calibre of talent he has seen. No actress has what it takes to play his lead female character; a woman who enters into an agreement with her male counterpart to dominate him as her slave. Thomas is about to leave the theatre when actress Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner) bursts in, a whirlwind of erratic and erotic energy. At first she seems to embody everything Thomas has been lamenting; she is pushy, foul-mouthed, desperate and ill-prepared - or so it seems.
When Thomas finally, reluctantly, agrees to let her try out for the part he is stunned and captivated by her transformation. Not only is Vanda a perfect fit but she has researched the role exhaustively, down to buying props, reading source materials and learning every line by heart. The likeness proves to be much more than skin-deep and as the extended audition builds momentum, Thomas moves from attraction to obsession...
No one can doubt that Roman Polanski is bewitched by his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, or that he adores her acting and the idea of her being in his films. However, although the eighty something year old Polanski may consider the fifty something year old Seigner to still be a sensual vixen and cinematic nymph, her days of playing twenty something to thirty something year old harlots, hookers, erotic objects of obsession and so forth may be drawing to a close, and it may well be past for the audience in general. Much like opera singers who persist in singing Violetta in La Traviata well into their 60s, there is a point at which it just won't work any more. Sadly, with this film, although it has been increasingly obvious for several years now, Emmanuelle Seigner may be at the tipping point, no matter what her love besotted husband thinks about her charms.
Polanski was wise to cast his wife, who his indeed older than the character in the play. That change actually works at the benefit of the story since the character, that actress storming in a theater asking for an audition, now looks even more desperate since she is very good looking but obviously, and intentionaly, past her prime. Contrary to the play (and for me it was a weakness), the character first comes off in the film as pathetic, something a "fresh new thing", or aspiring actress, cannot yet convey if only because of her youth. Polanski's take on the play, which he adapted with the playwright, starts more cruel and, therefore, the actress character's transformation, going from victim to tormentor basically, is even more radical and layered. The end result is very much polanskian, falling somewhere between Cul-de-sac and The Tenant, shades of both being very much in evidence here. Anyway, as for the valor of Seigner's performance goes, she got glowing reviews from the press at Cannes last year and went on to be nominated for Best Actress at the Cesar Awards, France's Oscars (co-star Mathieu Amalric got a nom as well while Polanski won as Best Director). I, for one, was enthralled by the mix of playfulness and wickedness she put on display. It is the polar opposite of what she did in Ozon's Dans la maison, her second best performance after this, INMHO.