Inappropriate American dubbing takes the sting out of “Venus in Furs,” an arty, updated take on the 19th-century classic S&M novel that fails to stimulate anything except the occasional giggle. Even Euro tube sales look soft for this one.
Relationship between dominatrix Wanda and lap dog Severin is boiled down to a series of posy encounters — in an old manse, a stable, a kind of crypt — in which she humiliates, whips and generally walks all over him, thereby encouraging his masochistic love. Ending has him branded by another man while she walks off with a woman friend.
Best bits are lingering, poetic closeups of bodies in well-lit B&W while chunks of Mahler’s and Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphonies resound. Alas, when the young thesps occasionally open their mouths to voice high-falutin’ dialogue, they sound more like spoiled kids out of “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Both actors are clearly mouthing Dutch.
The blond Anne van de Ven is too girlish as the woman, and Andre Arend van Noord comes over as sulky and uninteresting as the man. His voiceovers harking back to youthful S&M fantasies add little depth to the so-what proceedings. Full-frontal nudity is unblinking but natural.