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Directed by Roger Michell
Produced in 2006
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Screen legend Peter O'Toole stars in this moving story of an elderly actor and his somewhat questionable relationship with a teenage girl. Maurice (O'Toole) and his friend Ian (Leslie Phillips) are two classy curmudgeons whiling away their hours in coffee shops and at the theatre, but their routine is thrown for a loop when Ian's niece's daughter Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) is sent from the country to act as his nurse.
Jessie shows up on the scene sullen and pouty, immediately drinking all the liquor in the house and slouching her way from room to room. But Maurice befriends her, taking her to museums and getting her a gig as an art model, and along the way he openly expresses the lust she has awakened in him. Jessie's brash rejections of his affections are at first as amusing as they are awkward. When she starts to allow him small pleasures - like kissing her bare shoulders or caressing her hands - the film enters into complex territory, but it is deftly navigated by Hanif Kureishi's sharp screenplay, and O'Toole's heartbreaking performance.
Length: 95 mins
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 25th April 2011
Cat No: MIRLGD94576
by Peter Wild on 4th June 2007
The rumour goes that, in the face of a lifetime achievement Oscar some years back, Peter O'Toole raged and said he wasn't quite over yet, thank you very much. Venus, d... Read on
The rumour goes that, in the face of a lifetime achievement Oscar some years back, Peter O'Toole raged and said he wasn't quite over yet, thank you very much. Venus, director Roger Michell and writer Hanif Kureishi's third collaboration – following the BBC adaptation of The Buddha of Suburbia and the movie, The Mother – is very much that raging made flesh.
In a performance that ranks alongside the best of his career and bagged him his eighth Oscar nomination, O'Toole plays Maurice, an ageing actor who, along with his buddy Ian (played with grace and gusto by Leslie Phillips), is refusing to fade quietly into the dying of the light. The arrival of Ian's grandniece Jamie, (Jodie Whittaker in scene-stealing form), an uncouth, foul-mouthed Northern baggage with unlikely Hollywood daydreams, gives Maurice one last crack of the whip in the old romance stakes. With nods to films past and present (O'Toole's own My Favourite Year springs to mind, as does Billy Wilder's The Apartment in one memorable scene that sees Maurice killing time waiting for Jamie and her boyfriend to finish having sex in his flat), Venus is, of course, a love story, of the May-to-September variety. There is much to like here, ranging from Leslie Phillip's propensity for using the C-word to the delicate way in which Maurice and Jamie's relationship develops over the course of the film (from outright exploitation on the part of Jamie to something approaching fellow feeling).
Although critics have drawn parallels between Venus and Sofia Coppola's elegant Lost in Translation (there is a sense in which the film occupies similar space, telling the story of a love every bit as doomed as that between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson), the film is best approached as a sort of cranky grandparent of Bruce Robinson's Withnail & I (an impression in many ways fostered by the cameo appearance of Withnail's Uncle Monty, Richard Griffiths), Trivia fans may also care to take note of the fact that Kureishi has said the film was inspired by Junichiro Tanizaki's genius novel, ‘Diary of a Mad Old Man’. Hide
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