Venus in Fur

The words Roman Polanski and S-M are all some people will need to hear to make a beeline for this 2013 French drama. Yet the controversial director functions here mainly as an expert custodian of the Tony Award-winning play by David Ives, and the only whipping involved comes in the form of Ives’s whip-smart dialogue. After a long day of fruitless auditions, a playwright (Mathieu Amalric) casting the female lead in his adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s scandalous 1870 novel Venus in Furs falls under the spell of a tart-tongued actress (Emmanuelle Seigner), and as the evening progresses, their interaction begins to echo the sadomasochistic relationship in the book. That conceit probably worked better onstage than it does in this somewhat claustrophobic two-hander, yet Ives also widens his scope to include a modern-day dissection of the book’s sexual politics, the actress poking and prodding at its inherent misogyny. In French with subtitles.