Black Venus | Chicago Reader

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Rated NR · 162 minutes · 2010

Born in Tunisia and raised in Nice, writer-director Abdellatif Kechiche has portrayed the Franco-African experience in Games of Love and Chance (2003) and The Secret of the Grain (2007), but neither of them approaches the unmitigated suffering of this 2010 historical drama. It tells the sad story of Saartjes Baartman (Yahima Torres), who was brought to London from Cape Town in 1808 and endured a humiliating existence as "the Hottentot Venus," famous for her enlarged pudenda. Kechiche follows Baartman from the UK to France, where her venues may have ranged from Parisian society to the natural history museum to a common brothel but her treatment by ignorant whites was uniformly cruel, ugly, and degrading. For some reason the movie opens with a scene of scientists dissecting her body and depositing her ladyparts into a glass jar; considering what her life was like, perhaps Kechiche wanted to assure us that it ended. In English and subtitled French and Afrikaans.

See our full review: The euro might be shaky, but not the European Union Film Festival

The euro might be shaky, but not the European Union Film Festival

New work from the directors of The Secret of the Grain and, uh, Animal House »

Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Producer: Charles Gillibert, Marin Karmitz and Nathanaël Karmitz
Cast: Yahima Torres, Andre Jacobs, Olivier Gourmet, Elina Lowensohn, François Marthouret, Michel Gionti, Jean-Christophe Bouvet, Jonathan Pienaar, Rémi Martin and Jean-Jacques Moreau

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