MOVIE REVIEW : 'Venus' Discreetly Looks at Woman's Sexual Awakening


Zalman King's NC-17-rated "Delta of Venus" is a sweepingly romantic celebration of a woman's sexual awakening, inspired by the writings of Anais Nin. Throughout such films as "9 1/2 Weeks," "Wild Orchid" and "Two Moon Junction" and his Showtime "Red Shoe Diaries" series, King has taken sex seriously, with varying degrees of success but always fearlessly risking seeming merely silly.

Working from a script by Elisa Rothstein and Patricia Louisiana Knop, King succeeds in catching us up in his heroine's quest, during which she discovers that developing a capacity for sexual pleasure is integral to her sense of identity. Tender, passionate and erotic, sensual yet discreet, "Delta of Venus" is probably his most mature work to date. The time is Paris, January, 1940, and a beautiful aspiring young writer, Elena (Audie England), and Lawrence (Costas Mandylor), a virile famous novelist, have an affair as intense as it is brief. As France teeters on the brink of the abyss, Elena turns to writing pornography in order to survive, only to discover in it the key to her fulfillment, for she quickly realizes she can't write about what she hasn't experienced. Both England and Mandylor are effective.

"Delta of Venus" is an elegant, stylish film of shadowy beauty and a fine example of a film that looks more expensive than it surely cost. It's a film made by a man who actually seems to care for women, and to see in a woman's sexuality a source of her empowerment.

* MPAA rating: NC-17 for explicit sexuality. Times guidelines: The film is for sophisticated adults . There is considerable love-making, full frontal female nudity.


'Delta of Venus'

Costas Mandylor: Lawrence

Audie England: Elena

A New Line Cinema presentation. Director Zalman King. Producer Evzen Kolar. Executive producers Michael Nolin, Rolf Mittweg, Philip Rosen. Screenplay by Elisa Rothstein & Patricia Louisiana Knop; based on the writings of Anais Nin. Cinematographer Eagle Egilsson.. Editor James Bedford. Costumes Jolie Anna Jimenez; selected wardrobe by Cerruti 1881 Paris. Music George Clinton. Production designer Zdeneak Flemming. Art directors Milan Stary, Daniel Dvorak. Set decorator Miroslav Dvorak. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes.

* Exclusively at the NuWilshire, 1314 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica . (310) 394-8099.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World