Venus in Fur Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Alone in a Paris theater after a long day of auditioning actresses for his new play, writer-director Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) complains that no actress he’s seen has what it takes to play the 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 theater when actress Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner bursts in, a whirlwind of erratic - and, it turns out, 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 (even sharing the character's name), but she apparently has researched the role exhaustively, learned her lines by heart and even bought her own props. The likeness proves to be much more than skin-deep. As the extended "audition" builds momentum, Thomas moves from attraction to obsession until, with Vanda taking an ever more dominant role, the balance of power shifts completely. [IFC Films] Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Jul 11, 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Jun 17, 2014
    Like :Carnage,: it’s a bit of a minor lark until a deliciously grotesque finale pushes it into the realm of such kinkily profound Polanski films as: Cul-de-sac: (1966) and "The Tenant" (1976). By that point, you can’t help but submit to the perversity.
  3. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Jun 23, 2014
    Miraculously, he (Polanski) brightens the faded material, and conjures his most graceful work in years.
  4. 75
    As slight as Venus feels, it’s just titillating enough to matter, just twisted enough — Really, casting your wife and a guy who looks like you? — to suggest that even in his 70s, even with virtually no budget, Polanski can deliver a compelling walk on the kinky side.
  5. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    May 27, 2013
    A delightfully intricate battle of wits and wills in which the question of who’s directing/seducing/torturing whom remains constantly shifting open to interpretation.
  6. Reviewed by: David Hughes
    May 26, 2014
    Polanski’s unavoidably stagy adaptation of David Ives’ celebrated Broadway play is an enjoyably witty two-hander, confined to its theatre setting, yet with much to say about gender roles in the world beyond.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jun 19, 2014
    Polanski views things so mischievously that the naughtiness is neutered long before sniveling Thomas is tied to a pole. He’s a captive not only to Vanda, but also to all the dull, reductive mind games.

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 4
  2. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. Jul 8, 2014
    It's wonderful to see a film that knows exactly what it wants to be with no pretensions towards greatness. VENUS IN FUR is pure adult entertainment that takes total pleasure in the magnificence of acting. Emmanuelle Seigner is so delicious, loopy, sexy, funny, mean that it hurts (pun intended). Although created for the New York stage, director Roman Polanski totally inserts himself into the action via actor Mathieu Amalric who once again delivers a wonderful screen performance to match Seigner's. The play attempts to take on more than it can chew at the end as the explanations fly but actually the film is much better than that. The point is clear. No explanation needed. It is all overt enough. There is no real depth to VENUS IN FUR, it's about the magic of acting and the world we create around ourselves. Expand
  2. Jul 6, 2014
    With so many films feeling so flat and homogenized, it's refreshing to experience a film with such energetic and complex performances. Mathieu Amalric and especially, Emmanuelle Seigner are so engaging, you almost forget that you are essentially watching a filmed play. Expand
  3. Aug 28, 2014
    Thomas, played by Mathieu Amalric, is a play writer who cannot find a good director to direct his plays. Hence, he decides to direct his own play but he becomes frustrated when none of the auditioned actresses is capable of pulling out the main role. Sitting alone late at night in a theater, a new actress, Vanda, played by Emmanuelle Seigner, walks in as he is about to close and leave. Vanda seems to have no idea what the script is about and is old for the role but Thomas auditions her.

    As they read more of the play, Vanda's talent shows up. She incrementally gains control over her performance, stage, and even Thomas, who is the director and ultimate arbiter. As the audition progresses, the line between reality and the theatrical performance blurs out. The events in the play find ties to the events in the real life of Thomas and he hands over control of the stage to Vanda who emerges as goddess.

    Toward the end of the movie, Thomas finds a change to gain the control back and drive the audition (and his real life which is completely intermingled with the play at this point) but Vanda cunningly flips the role and retain the control.

    The power dynamics between Vanda and Thomas are interesting subjects to ponder on but the movie does not give any clue on what they mean. Deciphering of hidden messages in the movie is left completely to the viewer. Questions about this movie can linger in your mind for days after watching it.

    Performances in Venus in Fur are great and the blurring of reality and fantasy is interesting but the movie is lofty for the general audience and pointless for the critics. I cannot imagine what type of audience may enjoy this movie.

See all 4 User Reviews