Venus Movie Review
Having not watched Venus until shortly before its DVD release, I sat through the Oscars listening to speculators considering Peter O'Toole had a shot at gold and thinking that he doesn't deserve an award just because his time in this world is coming to an end. Needless to say, I thought the only reason he had a chance was because of this. I stand corrected. O'Toole delivers an award-worthy performance in Venus, a film which in itself is terrific.
Venus stars O'Toole as Maurice, a man who is coming to the end of his years, who finds solace with a couple of his equally aged friends. He has pretty much accepted the existence he now lives in - that is, until his friend's grandniece, Jessie (Jodie Whitaker), shows up in town to get a job. While his friend is disgusted by some Jessie's rather crude and modern ways, Maurice is absolutely stunned by the radiant young woman. While Jessie is reluctant at first, the two become close friends, though Maurice's interest in her is more than plutonic.
Venus is definitely one of the most intriguing dramas to come along in a long time. The movie is about a relationship, not quite a common friendship and not quite a romance, between a 75-year old man and a 24-year old woman. This is a film that could easily slip into disturbing territory, or into unsettling, or just absurd. It could be an old man's fantasy, or a tale of near pedophilia. That being said, it is none of those things. Venus does have its disturbing moments, where you see the pleasure in O'Toole's eyes at the sight of Whitaker's bare legs, but more than anything else, this is a story about a man who has passed the point of caring whether he comes off a bit sleazy and creepy. He is a nice person, and his expectations of Jessie are not without their rewards to her, but at the same time, he is a sleazy man.
And this is where Venus manages to win over the audience. Director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) and writer Hanef Kureishi have concocted the perfect balance of sincere friendship and something that is considered politically incorrect, that of a more-than-plutonic relationship between a couple with fifty years between them. The result is a funny, serious, emotional, heartwarming and still, slightly disturbing, movie that works on all cylinders. O'Toole and Whitaker are fantastic, play well off one another and have great chemistry. O'Toole's innocent sleaziness is a part of his charm.
There is not a slow part in the film, and every second is enjoyable. Venus is one of the best movies of 2006.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.