Actors: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner
Director: Roman Polanksi
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: French, German
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: October 14, 2014
Run Time: 96 minutes
Fans of the award-winning play will enjoy the stylistic nuances that Roman Polanski has added through the medium of film, though it remains a narrative contingent upon the ability of the only two actors in the cast. The entire story takes place in just one evening, taking place at a single location, and to call it ‘dialogue-heavy’ would be the understatement of the year. This is what made for such great theater, containing roles theatrical actors can often only dream of, though Polanski and his cast must work twice as hard to make the same elements work on film.
I wouldn’t call the adaptation a complete success, but this is mostly because I find little from the Tony Award-winning play that is relatable. Is it engaging at times to watch the cat-and-mouse behavior between a mysterious actress and a nervous theater director? Often, yes, but there were just as many moments where I longed for resolution which would never come. In the end, it is the audience that is the mouse, with the filmmaker and cast standing in as the felines.
The story is kept relatively simple, which only further highlights the importance of dialogue and performance. The cast includes only two; a writer/director named Thomas (Mathieu Amalric), and an audacious actress named Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner) who insists upon auditioning long after everyone else has gone home for the day. Thomas has a new play adapted from a controversial classic novel about sadomasochism, and Polanski seems to be throwing a likeness of himself into the mix intentionally by casting Amalric in his own adaptation of the work by David Ives.
Thomas is struggling with finding the right actress to play the lead role when Vanda arrives, creating a whirlwind of erotic energy onstage. It comes as no surprise to see this persona begin to bleed into real life, as art and life blend with one another. Polanski enjoys playing with these ideas, adding even more of a personal stamp by casting real-life wife as Vanda, despite the role being written for a twenty-four-year-old. These ideas seem to inspire Polanski, giving a personalized sense of passion to the material. I only wish that the material had interested me as much as it did him.
The DVD special features include interviews with Polanski, Seigner and Amalric. There is also a trailer.
Entertainment Value: 5.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8.5/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Special Features: 6/10