Black Venus (Venus Noire) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Black Venus (Venus Noire) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 16, 2016
A devastating and emotionally exhausting film that exposes without concessions, almost like a documentary and with the use of extreme close-ups, the real-life suffering of a poor woman who was brutally exploited, humiliated and treated like an animal for other people's pleasure.
½ May 30, 2015
A descent into the hell of human exploitation.
April 5, 2014
The best true story movie that I've seen. It has so many emotional scene

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August 1, 2013
L'Homme blanc dans toute sa "splendeur" ...
June 8, 2013
At first I thought that this film was utterly racist. Mind you not racist as in openly saying that black people are inferior, on the contrary it tends to depict every single white character as a lustful, small-minded, violent vulgaroid. No, this film appears racist because it shows the lead character as purely the object of other people's plans and ambition. She seems devoid of any form of will for herself. She is never shown taking the initiative, not even to buy a single hat!
She lets her life turn into a pathetic spectacle be it on stage or in the real life, like in that scene in the London court room where she is paraded in from of yet another audience. All along she is not more active than an old rag carried by the wind. But the film is not racist, it is simply misanthropic, it's not that the director despises the black character particularly, he apparently hates everybody equally.
Yet the character is obviously a rather gifted person full of energy and curiosity. She's objectively admirable even. She can speak at least four languages, she volunteered for a trip that would take her on the far side of the world, she obviously must have had plans, things she wanted to do after her business venture. But no, for some reason, she's deprived of that personality. This form of complete alienation coupled with the utter vulgarity of the rest world makes for a gloomy philosophy barely worth of an adolescent going through a passive agressive teenage crisis. Around her the world is crumbling (the scenes in Paris are shot the very same month as the battle of Waterloo which brought about the collapse of Napoleon's empire), but she and the director are really not interested.
I could see no love in the camera's eye, which is particularly sad considering that the cast in general was excellent. Andre Jacobs in particular is magnificent. To his credit, I have to say that the director is able to make the audience share completely his general hatred for the world around him. After almost three hours of being hammered with soft-core sadistic porn on repeat and seeing close ups of ugly faces and unappealing naked bodies, I too hate the whole of human kind, Afrikaans, French, Hottentot, English, all of that slimy, stinky, sweaty lot! At the end of the film, I felt nauseous even though I couldn't say if the cause was the constantly moving shoulder-held camera or the disgust inspired by Kechiche's cold outlook on life.
½ January 6, 2013
Un biopic interessant et bien realise qui peche toutefois par sa longueur. Kechiche a visiblement souhaite que le spectateur vive, endure meme, les humiliations subies par la Vénus Hottentote. Mais l'effet voulu finit par s'inverser et l'empathie cede la place au soulagement quand Sarah finit par mourir.... on est presque content nous aussi d'en finir.
November 30, 2012
Venus Noire is not a film you would want to see twice, but I am certain that after watching it just the once it will haunt me for the rest of my life. It is, without question, one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. This is because it depicts, with inescapable clarity, one of the darker, more despicable chapters of European history, the story of Saartje Baartman and the ceaseless, unspeakable suffering which she went through at the hands of this sadistic, cruel and ignorant world. There is no pretense in this film, nor concern for Western sensibilities which would sooner forget that story than remember and admit our collective shame. The actress, Yahima Torres, portrays Saartje and her pain with a remarkable, emotionally-shattering performance that will leave one feeling guilt-ridden and disgusted beyond belief. Her eyes say it all.
½ November 5, 2012
good and very interesting, but a bit too much wallowing in misery sometimes..
October 18, 2012
This film portrays the last years of life of Saartje Baartman, who is considered no less than a heroine in South Africa, and whose story is central for anyone dealing with the question of colonization and white rule. In my view the long scenes and Saartje's silence give the viewer the alienating and humiliating perspective of the subjected, who far from appearing like a savage, becomes in fact the only human being in the midst of inhumanity.
½ June 1, 2012
Même si c'est un peu lent et parfois sans à (C)motions le sujet du film et la rapide descente aux enfers de cette venus noire en Europe sont fascinants et à la fin très marquants. Le gà (C)nà (C)rique de fin montre la dà (C)cision de l'Assemblà (C)e de rendre la venus à sa terre natale et son retour là-bas...A voir...
½ May 24, 2012
This dramatic and terrible story is not for everyone and I strongly suggest the most emotionally fragile people among us to read about the Sarah Baartman's story instead of watching Abdellatif Kechiche's film. "Vénus noire" remains an interesting film as Sarah Baartman's story is to be told so that we understand how Difference, the fear of it, the non understanding of it can trigger the most inhuman sentiment, which lies in the darkest place of our soul in one word: Racism. However in 2 hours and 40 minutes, Abdellatif Kechiche abuses the audience with too many despicable scenes, too many scenes of dehumanization and degradation.

Beside its heavy content and shocking scenes that for sure will polarize the audience, the film is also served with an outstanding cast. The main actress Yahima Torres is very convincing in a very difficult role. But all actors (Andre Jacobs, Olivier Gourmet) display skills in their respective interpretation, skills that trigger emotions, we hate, we curse, we're ashamed, we're shocked and we're upset during 2h40 of cinematic maelstrom.
½ April 27, 2012
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½ March 31, 2012
Boff... it's alright, but waaaay too long.
March 19, 2012
Confronting docu-drama. Well portrays the barbaric and inhumane treatment of Saartjie Baartman, and the general bigotry of the era.

However, not new - the harsh treatment of non-whites by Europeans in the 19th century is well known, and the portrayal of the abuse of an unorthodox human being has been done before (The Elephant Man would be the best example).

In addition, the director labours his point to the limit - the movie could easily have been one hour shorter and had the same impact. Ultimately, fairly tedious.
½ February 9, 2012
J'ai comme un arrière goût très amer en bouche après avoir visionnà (C) ce film......un haut de coeur incroyable.... Dans le genre naruturaliste, eh bien c'est très rà (C)ussit Monsieur Kechice, au point que j'ai dû user du "fast-foward" par moment, c'à (C)tait, par endroit, insoutenable..... Film à ne pas à (C)couter si vous vivez une petite dà (C)prime! Ãa vous donne juste envie de vous noyer dans le rhum comme la protagoniste Sarah "Saartjie" Baartma faisait à profusion afin de survivre à sa situation.
à voir!
½ September 7, 2011
Possiblement le film le plus dur que j'ai vu sur le racisme. On en sort bouleverse, scandalise et degoute (d'autant plus que c'est une histoire vraie). A peu pres impossible de regarder ce film-la sans pleurer. Meme s'il n'est pas pour les ames sensibles, c'est un film a voir pour comprendre a quel point c'est important de lutter contre ce fleau, parce que lorsqu'on laisse aller, ca peut aller tres, tres loin.
½ September 5, 2011
Powerful until it drags on
August 29, 2011
Sujet fort s'il en est que l'adaptation de la vie de Saartjie Bartman, femme de l'ethnie hottentot dont la physionomie hors-norme fit d'elle une curiosite scientifique et un phenomène de foire dans l'Europe du debut du 19ème siècle. Après un fin miserable dans les bordels parisiens, ses restes furent exposes au Musee de l'homme de Paris jusqu'en 1974 avant d'être restitues à l'Afrique du sud en 2002. Et justement, le poids et les implications morales d'un tel sujet pouvaient faire craindre le pire quand à l'orientation qui serait envisagee par le realisateur : il aurait ete facile, beaucoup trop facile de se servir du destin tragique de la "Venus Hottentote" pour livrer un plaidoyer forcement pataud pour la tolerance ou pire, d'enfoncer des portes ouvertes en fustigeant la mentalite de gens morts depuis deux siècles. Les considerations raciales sont pourtant loin d'être esquivees à travers le film mais elle s'inscrivent dans le contexte general d'une siècle europeano-centriste qui trouvait cela normal, par habitude mais aussi par "rationalite scientifique". Tout comme "Elephant man" dont il se montre proche par de nombreux aspects, "Venus noire" est avant tout le reflet d'une epoque pas si lointaine durant laquelle des pratiques aujourd'hui revoltantes faisaient les joies d'un public, fruste ou cultive, venu se repaitre de la difference et de la decheance d'autrui. Pourtant, dans ce domaine non plus, "Venus noire" ne choisit pas la voie de la facilite et du manicheisme pour brosser ses personnages. Derrière la souffrance et l'humiliation quotidienne, Saartjie Bartman fait preuve à la fois d'inertie et d'abnegation, son cupide geôlier semble lui vouer une affection qui ne semble pas feinte et, derrière les regards et les visages deformes par la vision de la "difference", un malaise semble poindre chez certains quand à la moralite d'une telle exhibition. Un malaise qui touchera immanquablement le spectateur car Abdellatif Ketiche va jusqu'au bout de sa logique, ne dissimulant rien de la descente aux enfers de Bartman, avec une absence de complaisance qui confère au film d'autant plus de force. Qu'on le veuille ou non, on se retrouve soi-même "spectateur" du calvaire de sa protagoniste, à l'instar de ceux qui, voici deux siècles, cherchaient le frisson à bon marche sans vouloir ni pouvoir arrêter cette lente mise à mort psychologique. Pour faire sienne un tel abandon, une telle resistance passive face à l'innomable, une telle solitude muette sans sombrer dans la caricature, il fallait une actrice d'exception : Ketiche l'a trouve en la personne de la Cubaine Yahima Torrès.
August 27, 2011
It's London in 1810 and the cheap variety blocks in East End have a new success. The so called Hottentott Venus. She behaves like an animal, is treated on stage like an animal and the audiences respond like they should towards an animal. And there's some money in it for her stage guardian.

This Venus has a real name and that's Saartjie Baartma. She's not a slave, not in the technical meaning of the word. She is hired. She performs in les salons de Paris too. She also performs in front of the French scientists, who wants to find out about her genitals. In the end Saartjie performs on brothels ending up like a street prostitute. That's not her last performance. It takes place after her death when a professor holds a lecture about her "hottentott" body.

As you understand these 160 minutes aren't easy watching. Humiliation based on racism, it is. But what this film wants to say is not just that Saartjie's employers and the audiences are a bunch of disgusting scumbags. That was the cruel and disgusting times. The film says that Saartjie's tormenters are EXPLOITING racism. And the audiences have their racism exploited. There is money to be made on that too, if anybody had any doubts.
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