Emmanuelle Seigner could only shoot her scenes by day because she was appearing at night on stage in an acclaimed revival of Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming." See more »
She taught me the most valuable thing in the world.
And what did she teach you?
That nothing is more sensual than pain. That nothing is more exciting than degradation.
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Behind the credits are images of classical artworks depicting Venus. Titles, in French as per the credits, are as follows - Titian: Vénus a sa toilette (1555) (National Gallery of Art, Washington) Ferdinand Bol: Vénus et Adonis (1658) (Rijksmuseum) Titian: Vénus a sa toilette (1555) Rubens: Vénus au miroir (1616) Rubens: La Toilette de Vénus (1608) Diego Velasquez: Venus au miroir (1651) Hans Memling: La vanité (1485) École de Fontainebleu: : La Toilette de Vénus (around 1550) Sandro Biotticelli: La naissance de Vénus (1485) Alexandre Cabanel: La naissance de Vénus (1863) Emil Jacobs: Vénus allongé et Cupidon (1839) Nicolas Poussin: Vénus dormant avec l'Amour (1628) Titian: Danae (1546) Rembrandt: Danae (1636) Joseph Helmz l'ancien: Vénus endormie (around 1600) Alessandro Allon: Vénus et Cupidon (16th century) Titian: Danae (1544) Lambert Sustris: Vénus et l'Amour (1515) Domenico Zampieri: Vénus (17th century) Jacopo Palma: Vénus allongée (1520) (Bridgeman Art Library) The final image is of the "Venus De Milo". See more »
Polansky has turned a shoestring-budget production shot in a single location with just 2 second-rate actors (one of whom is the director's wife) and a skeleton crew into a timeless masterpiece.
Lars von Trier should watch this and learn how a theatrical drama shot on a small stage with nothing more than stage lights and a bit of fog can become a feast for the eyes. Before I watched this film I liked von Trier more than Polansky. Not any more. I just watched it a second time and am still mentally savoring the delicacy and artistry in every single shot, the painterly lighting, the fascinating expressions that Polansky got out of his missus, and the beautiful exterior tracking shots at the beginning and end of the film.
The mystery of who exactly Wanda is keeps getting bigger until it reaches deific proportions, but not in the post-Victorian, anemic sense of the word. In Latin, Venus and venerari (worship) come from the same root, which means sexual lust as well as religious worship. And that's exactly what Bacchanalia are - heavenly and earthly at the same time. See the movie and you'll understand.
Needless to say, as Wanda's character shines, Thomas keeps getting tinier. In fact he's little more than a prop for Wanda in the whole movie, which is of course the idea, but it could have been done better. I suppose if Mathieu Amalric is as far as your budget goes, his effort in this movie is still more than your money's worth.
Finally, I thank and congratulate Polansky for conjuring this little marvel at such an unexpected point of his career and during such a seemingly endless doldrums for movies in general. I suspect that Mrs. Seigner has more to do with this little alchemist's jewel than just acting in it and that Thomas has more than a little Roman in him. If indeed Roman's Venus is the muse behind it all, then maybe it's time for Mrs. Polansky to get off her ass and start directing.
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