O'Toole falls for this goddess of love


on December 21, 2006 by Kevin Courrier
For more than forty years, Peter O'Toole has entertained audiences by embracing the joy of purely theatrical acting. In Venus, playing a famous performer in the twilight of his life, he embellishes every line with the unbridled delight of a sleek old bloodhound gnawing happily on a bone. Director Roger Michell and writer Hanif Kureishi have returned to the subject of inter-generational romance, an area they last explored in The Mother, in which an older woman falls in love with her daughter's boyfriend. In Venus, Maurice (O'Toole) becomes infatuated with the newly arrived teenaged niece of his oldest friend Ian (Leslie Phillips). While Ian expects to meet a fine cultured girl, Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) turns out to be pop culture incarnate. Though she brings misery to Ian, the girls awakens the spirit — and ribaldry — of Maurice.

Venus is thankfully less churlish in tone than The Mother, but the picture is unfortunately more mechanically structured. Whittaker may be a spry actress, but we don't really understand how she mesmerizes Maurice. Besides O'Toole's lovely work here, the only pleasures in Venus are tangential to the actual story. Watching the bittersweet exchanges between O'Toole and Vanessa Redgrave, as his former wife, call up memories of a generation of British actors whose graceful style is quickly becoming a distant memory. There's more true art in their fragile moments than anywhere else in the film. Distributor: Miramax
Cast: Peter O'Toole, Leslie Phillips, Jodie Whittaker and Vanessa Redgrave
Director: Roger Michell
Screenwriter: Hanif Kureishi
Producer: Kevin Loader
Genre: Drama
Rating: R for language, some sexual content and brief nudity
Running time: 95 min.
Release date: December 20, 2006 NY/LA

Tags: Peter O'Toole, Leslie Phillips, Jodie Whittaker, Vanessa Redgrave, Roger Michell, actor, romance

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