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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Film review - Venus im Pelz (La Vénus à la fourrure)

At the Hamburg Filmfest the jury chose Venus in Fur to receive the Art Cinema Award for which twelve films were nominated. It was also my favourite film out of the 14 films that I managed to see during the ten days of the festival.

Here, director Roman Polanski has filmed another stage play (after Carnage, 2011) and freely adapted Leopold Sacher-Masoch’s novel of 1870, based on the play by David Ives. The intense rapport between the brilliant Mathieu Amalric as Thomas and a gorgeous and dynamic Emmanuelle Seigner as Vanda holds your attention throughout.

Thomas, the tired and frustrated theatre director, is about to leave the theatre without having engaged an actress for the leading role of Vanda in his adapted play. He doesn’t get far but is stopped by a young woman barging breathlessly in and trying to convince him that she is the right person for the role. But who is this mysterious chewing-gum-munching woman, calling herself Vanda (like the character in his play) and reciting his text on the spur of the moment with an unexpected elegance? At one moment she is sophisticated and sexy and the next she is vulgar and brazen. Slowly but surely this woman is taking over control and ensnarling Thomas with her passion, until he is totally bewildered. The dialog in this psychological duel swings frequently between play and reality. What is real and what is imagination? From time to time Thomas’ mobile phone, ringing with the bombastic music by Richard Wagner, brings him back to reality; it’s his wife asking when he will be coming to dinner.

It is a great pleasure to watch these two exceptional actors involved in a battle of the sexes where time and space are blurred and of little importance. (Birgit Schrumpf)

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