Tribeca Film Festival 2014: Double-Feature “Match” and “Venus in Fur”

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The tagline for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival suggests that film festivals are the original binge-watching experience. In that spirit, enjoy these suggestions for the perfect double-features at the Tribeca Film Festival, complete with suggested accompanying snacks.

Match

Lisa (Carla Gugino) has traveled out to New York City with her husband Mike (Matthew Lillard) to interview Tobi (Patrick Stewart), a world-famous dancer and choreographer, on his storied career. Her interview, however, has less to do with Tobi’s career and more to do with personal details of his past, choices that have come back to haunt him.

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Venus in Fur

On a dark and stormy night, playwright Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) is kept late at auditions for his new play, Venus in Fur. Just as he is heading out the door, a disheveled, rain-soaked actress Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner) stumbles in the door and begs for a chance to audition. He finally relents, and Vanda reaches into her bottomless Mary Poppins purse, pulling out the completed script, a smoking jacket from 1869…and a pair of thigh-high black leather boots. As the lines blur between the play and real life and Thomas loses his grip on reality, the question remains who Vanda really is and what she wants from Thomas.

Why They Belong Together

On a surface level, Match and Venus in Fur are based on Broadway plays set in New York City from the past decade with small casts (2 men and 1 woman in Match, and 1 man and 1 woman in Venus in Fur). Both plays are also limited to a single space, an apartment for Match and an audition room for Venus in Fur, and in both stories, at least one character has an ulterior motive. All of these factors beg the question of why either play should be adapted for film at all.

Match takes the story outside of Tobi’s apartment. The film opens at Tobi’s ballet class, and his first meeting with Mike and Lisa takes place at a Greek restaurant. Most of the film, however, is still confined to the apartment, and unfortunately, the film’s director (and writer of the original stage play) Stephen Belber does not seem to know how to take advantage of the film medium vs. a stage play. The camerawork is serviceable, but there weren’t any shots that stood out to me.

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The biggest advantage that Match has in its favor is the cast. I enjoy Carla Gugino, and Matthew Lillard continues his indie film come-back. Patrick Stewart is well-cast as Tobi, though I think Belber really gets a kick out of Stewart (and Frank Langella, who played the part of Tobi on Broadway) saying “cunnilingus.” It is funny at first, but the novelty wears off fast.

In comparison, Venus in Fur is a spectacular adaptation that never feels confined by the space. The original play is set in a New York City audition room, and the film is reset in a Paris theater, an inspired choice which opened up so many visual possibilities. As the film unfolds, Polanski’s direction transforms a ramshackle theater from an erotic dream into a house of horrors. The opening single-shot following Vanda from the rainy boulevard through the doors into the theater and up to the stage is gorgeous, and paired with Alexandre Desplat’s mischievous musical score, it sets the perfect tone for the dark comedy that follows.

Even if the production details had been lackluster, Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric have great on-screen chemistry. The script is brilliant, and their performances bring out the many layers of meaning in the dialogue. It is the perfect marriage of talent, script, and director, and despite my personal feelings on Polanski, it will probably be one of my favorite films of 2014.

Suggested Snack

Patrick Stewart’s party mix (not a euphemism) and metaphorical coffee.

Bonus!

Match and Venus in Fur are battling for which is more disturbing, keeping a jar full of fingernail clippings or being strapped to a prop cactus that looks like a phallic symbol. I personally lean toward the cactus.

May
10
2014
Rachel Kolb • Staff Writer

I love movies, writing, and breaking into song in public. You can follow me on Twitter @rachelekolb or check out more of my work at http://rachelekolb.wordpress.com.

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