Venus in Fur

Venus in Fur ★★★½

”Nothing is more sensual than pain. Nothing is more exciting than degradation.”

Twisty, dark and breathtaking, Venus in Fur is exactly what one expects to see from Roman Polanski. The eighty year old Polish director only needs two actors, a single location and an immensely mind-bending screenplay to once again uncover the dark and disturbing side of mankind’s soul and create an experience which is impossible to forget. Venus in Fur is a thematically challenging and formally exciting movie which freezes its audience for 90 minutes and in the end manages to deliver something incredibly melancholic and maddeningly puzzling.

Based on David Ives’ play of the same name Venus in Fur is a psychological thriller focusing on an unusual and complex relationship which is forming up between a mysterious actress (Emmanuelle Seigner) and a middle-aged theater writer/director (Mathieu Amalric). Although it starts like a realistic movie but as it goes ahead Polanski moves away from those initial tones and instead builds a confounding and strange atmosphere which is very hard to call realistic, soon it becomes difficult to differentiate between the reality that surrounds characters and the roles they are playing. The film portrays a process in which one character gradually gains control over the other one and then through this control manages to remove the margin between reality and imagination.

At first we are curious to know about this woman, her intention and her motives but Polanski never cares about those questions so instead of trying to make a thrilling detective story he navigates us toward a more disturbing and profound ending, as always the reckless behavior of us humans and the destructive nature of our minds is what fascinates Polanski most, here he portray a process in which a human being gives away his identity and dignity in order to satisfy his carnal desires.

The film is about a theatrical adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s famous novel Venus in Furs and what Polanski and his co-writer, David Ives do is that they run two stories parallel to each other, the story of Thomas and Vanda goes through the same milestones and developments that the characters of the 1870 novel are going through which further intensifies the whole thing and also provides a great opportunity for Polanski to explore some of his favorite themes.

But the film wouldn't have been impressive if it wasn't for its performances. Emmanuelle Seigner is amazing as the mysterious Vanda who consciously moves back and forth between being a brutal punisher and a seductive lover, Mathieu Amalric’s performance is also admirable as a man who step by step gives up his sanity and yields to the sensuality and character strength of Vanda. The film’s editing controls the rhythm perfectly and when your composer is Alexander Desplat you know that you’re going to hear some powerful melodies.

Venus in Fur is a wonderful thriller from a true master whose ability to shock the viewers is beyond compare.

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