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Movie review: Polanski takes on kinky Broadway tale 'Venus in Fur'

Published July 17, 2014 3:12 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sexual gamesmanship gets a French twist in "Venus in Fur," director Roman Polanski's kinky adaptation of David Ives' Tony-nominated play.

Some of the kink is inherent in the story, a two-character tale about a playwright, Thomas (Mathieu Amalric), auditioning an actress, Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner), for the lead in his adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's 1870 novel "Venus in Furs," the book that helped coin the word "masochism."

In Ives' play and the screenplay he and Polanski adapted, the seemingly vapid Vanda turns out to be perfect at delivering Thomas' words — and, at times, upends the dominant/submissive relationship between writer and performer.

It's kinky on a meta level here, since Amalric resembles a younger Polanski and Seigner (who played opposite Amalric in "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly") is Polanski's wife.

In this somewhat stage-bound battle of wills, Seigner is intriguing but slightly overmatched by Amalric, who's dynamic as the tortured writer.

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'Venus in Fur'

Opens Friday, July 18, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; not rated, but probably R for nudity, sexual dialogue and language; in French with subtitles; 96 minutes.