Directed by Roger Michell.
Written by Hanif Kureishi.
Starring Peter O'Toole, Jodie Whittaker, Leslie Phillips and
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 2/15/07
My run to catch as many of the
Oscar-nominated films as possible is coming to an end, with the
broadcast just over a week away; "Venus" wasn't high on my list of
films to see but when Peter O'Toole was given the nod for his
performance in this film, I had to see if the old guy's still got
Two things are clear: O'Toole has still got
that magical je ne sais quoi quality about him, and damn, is Peter
O'Toole old!! In "Venus", he plays Maurice, a
seventy-something formerly famous star who still does bit work here
and there playing senior citizens past and present in a variety of
films, theater and television programs. His best friend
outside of his work is Ian (Leslie Phillips), a whiny old chap who
commiserates with Maurice regularly on the state on old manhood,
chatting regularly about pain, pills, relatives, or just plain ol'
bickering while hangin' out at their everyday coffee shop. Ian
informs Maurice that he has called on a distant niece to take care
of him, and so when that niece, 20-something Jessie (rookie Jodie
Whittaker), arrives and proceeds to be the biggest do-nothing
housemate Ian could have asked for, Maurice tries to soften her
stance by helping Jessie find work, friends, or just goals in life
but infusing himself into Jessie's life whenever he is not working.
It is their kooky relationship that is the film's strength, as we
following one of the true odd couples in recent film history.
"Venus" is driven by the strong work of
O'Toole--who looks as old as time throughout the film but also just
as seasoned as he ever does, given how infrequently he works
nowadays--but also by the surprising performance of Whittaker, who
plays an interesting foil to O'Toole's Maurice by injecting attitude
into the duo's relationship. The bickering between Maurice,
Ian, and Donald (Richard Griffiths, best described as "oh yeah, THAT
guy", because he's such a seasoned no-name film vet) are some of the
best scenes in the movie; Vanessa Redgrave even shows up to play
Maurice's loving wife...the work all around by the performances is
stellar, and as this was directed by Roger Michell (who also did one
of the few romantic comedies I did like, "Notting Hill"), it is no
surprise that the minor characters are given the same attention to
detail that the leads are given...man, you can't beat a comedy that
has strong supporting characters.
Given the strong work of the actors, I was
strangely bored at times during "Venus"; the film as a whole is, for
whatever reason, not a great representation of the strong individual
assets presented. It does have some good life lessons that
cannot be ignored, and the energy given to the flick by Whittaker
keeps it moving...I don't know, I just got really inpatient (if that
can be believed, given that this flick was only 90 minutes long)
during "Venus", and I still can't figure out why. I just know
that this feeling is keeping me from going to the top of the scale
on this puppy, but "Venus" is still a flick worth seeing and if you
haven't seen a Peter O'Toole flick in a while, "Venus" is a good way
to get back into the game.
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard