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Venus

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A reviewer

    And so reflects 70-something Maurice (Peter O'Toole) about the importance of beauty and searching for love as the only significant goals as life races by him. VENUS is a small miracle of a film written by Hanif Kureishi ('My Beautiful Laundrette') about the isolation and inner devastation of growing old in today's society. What could have been a morose, whining diatribe about the cruelties of advancing age and the manner in which we treat the elderly becomes a window into the psyche of older characters whose lives have meant something - if to no one else but themselves. Three old thespian friends and colleagues (Maurice, Ian - Leslie Phillips and Donald - Richard Griffiths) spend there days reading obits, sharing pills and recalling the days of their acting glory. Maurice has not given up as he still performs as old characters in films and continues his lifelong libidinous longing for beautiful females. Ian fears death from hypertension and agrees to have his niece's daughter Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) move in to care for him. But the coarse, crude, and rude Jessie drives Ian to distraction and Ian seeks Maurice's aid in diverting Jessie's time to activity away from her home care service. The story thus opens the way to examine the needs and desires of both Maurice and the very young Jessie, each finding a sense of solace, friendship and a new kind of love despite their extreme age differences. Maurice continues to visit his ex-wife Valerie (Vanessa Redgrave) whenever he needs a connection to reality: these encounters speak more about the continuity of love once splintered than in almost any prior film. In a story that could have focused on aged lechery and youthful opportunism this film, as directed by Roger Michell, instead elects to find the path toward beauty that underlines the needs of disparate people. The performance by O'Toole is staggeringly superb and the remainder of this small cast (Redgrave, Griffiths, Phillips - all long admired, seasoned pros - and Whittaker, a very promising new face) is top notch. The writing and directing and acting in this film is at the peak of excellence - there really isn't anything else. Grady Harp

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