The film portrays a frustrated playwright-director, his search for the right actress and his encounter with an unlikely muse, starring Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner
Still from the "Venus in Fur", photo: fot. festival-cannes.fr
Polański's latest film, Venus in Fur, will be in the running for the Palme d'Or at the 66th Cannes Film Festival. The film is an adaptation of David Ives' erotic black comedy, starring Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric
Venus in Fur is joining Only God Forgives, the second film from Drive partnership Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn, Inside Llewyn Davis by the Coen brothers, as well as Steven Soderbergh's Liberace biopic, in the competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
The festival runs from the 15th to the 26th of May. U.S. director Steven Spielberg is heads this year's jury.
Venus in Fur's protagonist is a playwright-director frustrated in his search for the right actress for his play based on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 book Venus in Furs. Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) complains about the untalented candidates he has auditioned - none seems right for the role of a woman making a deal with a man to be her slave. Then a mysterious woman comes through the audition room's door.
Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner, Polański's wife) has a strong personality and is a hurricane of erotic energy. She is perfectly prepared: She bought props, read the source material and knows the dialogues by heart. Thomas can tell how desperate she is to get the part and at the same time knows she is completely wrong for it. But Vanda won't take no for an answer, and starts to become more and more dominant as the balance of power between them begins to shift…
Polański is known for scouting Broadway for cinematic inspiration. He adapted Yasmin Reza's play The God of Carnage into the film Carnage in 2011. Venus in Fur is an adaptation of David Ives' play that was co-written by the playwright and Polański. The play was inspired by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novel Venus in Furs (the writer's name gave rise to the term "masochist"), which ran as a two-person play set in contemporary times. It premiered Off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company in 2010, and transfered to Broadway in 2011. Nina Arianda and Wes Bentley played the original roles, directed by Walter Bobbie, with Hugh Dancy taking over the male lead for the transfer to Broadway. The play received a Tony Best Play nomination in 2011, Nina Arianda won the 2011-12 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, and Hugh Dancy was nominated for the Best Actor Tony for his performance as the playwright-director.
"I’ve been looking for a chance to make a film in French with Emmanuelle for a long time", Polański said in a statement picked up by the Hollywood Reporter. "Reading Venus in Fur, I realized the moment had arrived." Steven Zeitchik writes for the L.A. Times that "The Venus movie will bring a certain meta quality: a well-known director will direct his actress-wife in a movie about a director in a complicated relationship with an actress."
Insidemovie's Anthony Breznican adds another twist, remarking that in Ives' play, Vanda is around 28 while Emmanuelle Seigner is 46. "The age difference could lend a new twist to the play’s power struggle", Brznican asks, "or is Polanski perhaps switching the gender roles and making the experienced director a woman and the manipulative young actor a man?" Seigner is known for her roles in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Frantic, Bitter Moon and The Ninth Gate. Mathieu Amalric, who plays the director-playwright in Venus, is a three-time César Award winner, for Arnaud Desplechin's My Sex Life and Kings and Queen, and for Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
"A film about a director's shifting, compromised relationship with his muse", Xan Brooks writes in The Guardian. Polański's version of Venus in Fur relocates the action from New York City to Paris, the director's regular base since he fled the U.S. in 1978, and is in French. The cinematographer for Venus in Fur is Paweł Edelman, the Polanski regular who has worked on The Pianist, Oliver Twist, The Ghost-Writer and Carnage. The Polish co-producer and distributor of the film is Monolith Films. Polański takes on this project before tackling D., his story of the Alfred Dreyfus treason case in late 19th-century France, the L.A. Times reports. The premiere is scheduled for 2013.
Sources: Bartosz Staszczyszyn's article for culture.pl, MovieWeb, Deadline, The Guardian, LA Times, EmpireOnline, InsideMovies
Editor: MJ, updated: 18.04.2013 (mg)