venus in fur

I was surprised by how much I liked this, especially after how much I disliked Roman Polanski‘s stage-to-screen adaptation of “Carnage.”

In this case I had the benefit of also seeing Venus in Fur on stage, which allows interesting comparisons. The most interesting is the casting: Polanski’s film is cast older. In the cast of Vanda it’s a lateral move: I think Emmanuelle Seigner is about as good as Nina Arianda was in her Tony-winning performance, which is high praise.

But in terms of the director character, Thomas, Mathieu Amalric as actually a much better fit than Hugh Dancy was on stage. Dancy was certainly capable playing this kind of insecure, sexually ambivalent man, but he’s very much an alpha male, who looks and carries himself like the prom king. Amalric, however, is able to convey the smallness, the fear of his own desires, the neediness in a much fuller way.

It’s a visually effective film that never feels stage-bound, even though it literally is. I’d love to see Amalric and Seigner in the conversation for lead-acting Oscars, assuming it’s eligible.