Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Old Man and the She: Peter O’Toole Gives a Career Capping Performance in “Venus”

You should have to swipe your AARP card to get into “Venus,” a film tailor-made for the over 60 crowd. Basically, if you’re graying and you think Glen Miller is hip you’ll get a kick out of it. And even though I’m a fan of the old ladies show “The Golden Girls” I found very little to enjoy about “Venus.” Peter O’Toole gives an Oscar-nominated performance as, gasp, an aging actor. What a stretch. But in all seriousness, he does grasp his role very well and gives it all he’s got. Basically the film starts out as the Odd Couple and delves into an old man/young woman love affair.

Young Jodie Whittaker is the Venus of the film’s title and she moves in to take care of her elderly uncle Leslie Phillips. Philips and O’Toole are old friends. And boy do I mean old. They spend their afternoons sharing each other’s medication as if they were their wives’ recipes. They even clip each other’s toenails. O’Toole takes a liking to this young woman who for the record is trying to break into modelin’, not yodelin’.

The film moves along at the pace of an old woman’s wobbly walker. It makes you feel as if time is slipping between your fingers. You almost expect to be 100 years old before it’s over. The film has its moments of comic hilarity, but unfortunately it meanders through scene after scene of O’Toole ogling Whittaker and you just want them to get it on already! (Actually you really don’t) It’s impossible to think that this woman would even have a slight interest in hanging out with O’Toole, but she does anyways.

We don’t really get to learn a whole lot about O’Toole’s character, although we do get to witness some of his acting gigs. One includes playing, an elderly dying man. So here we have a film in which an elderly man plays an elderly man playing an elderly man. If that doesn’t sound Oscar-worthy I don’t know what is.

Director Roger Michell who has made the other British romantic comedy “Notting Hill,” handles the material well, but he doesn’t completely grasp our attention. He was smart to open the film with these two old men exchanging pills, but after that highlight there’s nowhere else to go but down. See this for O’Toole’s great performance, otherwise you’d get more out of cheering up some geriatrics at the old folks home. GRADE: C+

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