Not to be confused with the Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch classic of the same name, Jesus Franco's Venus in Furs is a stylish, atmospheric thriller that tells the story of Jimmy Logan, an American jazz musician, who while in Turkey discovers the body of a dead girl on the beach. The woman, Wanda Reed, has been murdered by a group of the economically and socially elite, something which Jimmy may or may not have witnessed when attending an upper class party a few months ago. Now in Rio de Janeiro, Jimmy shacks up with Rita, a beautiful singer, who helps the young musician recover his equilibrium from the events he witnessed in Turkey. Jimmy is mentally back on his feet, that is until Venus, a woman who is a dead ringer for the deceased Wanda Reed, walks into his life. Jesus Franco's Venus In Furs is atmospheric, entrancing, and full of intrigue, being a film which may be a little hard to follow at times, though it hardly matters due to the visual and audio atmospheric qualities it's able to create. Venus in Furs is essentially a ghost story about a vengeful spirit in the form of this dead woman who exacts her revenge on those who wronged her. The inclusion of Venus, who is a dead-ringer for Wanda, adds a wrinkle to the archetypal ghost story though, as the film never makes it very clear whether Venus is in fact there or whether Jimmy's infatuation with Wanda has led to psychological manifestations. The film is full of mystery and intrigue early on, being a psychological thriller that never fully becomes clear until the tacked on ending, though Jimmy's obsession over this woman is a major aspect of the film. In one word, Venus in Furs is intoxicating, with Jesus Franco's direction, along with psychedelic musical choices and stylish cinematography working together create an atmospheric experience. Using blurred imagery, innovative cinematography both in terms of composition and movements, Franco evokes a sense of entrancement that envelopes the whole film, putting the viewer into the psyche of Jimmy Logan, a man who can't get this beautiful woman out of his mind. For lack of a better word, the film creates an intemperance in the viewer, evoking the inner-psyche of its main character, a man who becomes intoxicated and borderline obsessed by Venus. Typical of a lot of these types of films, Venus In Furs doesn't really make complete sense, with the ending not exactly being earned, but I'd argue that it hardly matters in a film like this, which is an impressive cinematic achievement more so because of the atmosphere and mood it is able to create with its excessive style which surely delivers a one-of-a-kind experience. This isn't to say the film doesn't have merits outside of its style, as Franco's use of eroticism seems to be a playful jabbing at the Philistine or uptight culture of Art House cinema. I may be reading into the film too much, but the fact that the characters who are responsible for Wanda's death are all socialites and members of high society, one could argue they are a symbolic representation of this ideal, being characters who are Erotic and sensual behind the curtain but cold and proper on their outer appearance. Highly-stylized, moody, and full of intrigue, Venus In Furs is another fascinating film by Jesus Franco, who seemingly uses his typical eroticism to comment on the uptight conservatism of his peers.
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