All the world’s a stage, and an arrogant auteur winds up unsure of his marks in “Venus in Fur,” the latest film from Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski.
Adapted in French from David Ives’ 2011 Tony-winning Broadway play, the film screens at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art as part of its five-film French Cinema Weekend.
Ives, who wrote the screenplay with Polanski, based his play on Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novella “Venus in Furs,” about a woman who agrees to take on an infatuated intellectual as her personal slave.
We get the term “masochism” from the author’s name and his novella, so that gives you some insight into the source material.
Set on a cartoonishly stormy night in a rundown theater where the trappings of a musical version of “Stagecoach” provide an amusingly incongruous backdrop, “Venus in Fur” excels as an acting showcase for Emmanuelle Seigner (who happens to be Polanski’s wife) and Mathieu Amalric (who happens to bear no small resemblance to a young Polanski).
The themes may get complicated, but the layered play-within-a-play story is fairly simple: Amalric plays Thomas Novacheck, a haughty, ill-tempered playwright who has decided to direct his own stage adaptation of Sacher-Masoch’s novella. When we first meet him, Thomas is railing on the phone about the shallow, dimwitted actresses who auditioned that day and despairing that he’ll ever find that right woman to play the regal dominatrix Vanda.
Before Thomas can leave for the day, a latecomer bursts in with a crash of thunder.
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‘Venus in Fur’
Starring: Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric. (Sex, nudity, profanity, adult themes).