Controversial film director Roman Polanski is looking to the stage for inspiration once again following last year’s New York set comedy “Carnage.” The filmmaker is set to direct an adaptation of the Tony Award winning “Venus in Fur,” an “erotic black comedy” about a power-balance shift between a theater director and the women auditioning for the lead role, who exemplifies everything the director doesn’t want for the part. The classic novel “Venus in Furs,” which inspired the Velvet Underground song of the same name and is the source of the word masochism, underlines the play, which was staged on and off Broadway to rave reviews. The director will be working from a script he wrote with playwright David Ives, and has cast French actors Emmanuelle Seigner (who also happens to be his wife) and Louis Garrel in the two main roles.
Polanski, who is a master of confined cinematic space (watch “The Tenant” again if you don’t agree), is a natural for theatrical material, which often doesn’t translate well to the screen without major changes. “Venus in Fur” also bears a close resemblance to a film he made over two decades ago, “Bitter Moon,” one of Polanski’s most underrated films and surely the finest performance of Seigner’s career. The director and his actress wife have not made a film together since “The Ninth Gate” in 1999, so it will be interesting to see what comes from their collaboration after a decade-plus absence.
Polanski will also be appearing at this year’s New York Film Festival, though not in person (he’s not permitted by law). Marina Zenovich, director of the documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” which prompted a renewed interest in the sexual abuse trial that caused the director to flee the country in 1977, is back with a follow-up, “Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out,” which chronicles the fallout from the first film and her role in the ongoing legal saga since.