Film Review: Venus

1 Feb

Plot: Maurice (Peter O’ Toole) and Ian (Leslie Phillips) are a pair of veteran actors who never quite hit the big time. Now in their “golden years” they continue to work, though the jobs are far from glamorous. But their comfortable routine and witty banter over breakfast in a favorite cafe is disrupted by the arrival of Ian’s grand-niece, Jessie (Jodie Whittaker). Jessie quickly tries her great-uncle’s patience; but Maurice is absolutely taken with the young woman and proceeds to show her the cultural sights of London. As Maurice tries to give Jessie the benefit of his experience, he is surprised to discover how very little he actually knows about himself now that his life is drawing to a close. Jessie, who had arrived with an enormous chip on her shoulders, slowly learns from Maurice the value of respect–for herself as well as others.

I have seen films with Peter O’ Toole in it before, films like The Last Emperor, King Ralph, Phantoms and Troy – but it’s not after you’ve seen his performances in 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia and 1968’s The Lion in Winter (both films earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Actor) that you truly appreciate the talent of the man. He has received 8 nominations altogether but has yet to win the elusive Oscar. The Academy gave him an honorary award in 2003 but expressed dismay at receiving the honorary Oscar, saying he was “still in the game.” And to quote the LA Times, the transporting performance he gives in “Venus” proves that he was not kidding.

I’ve set myself a mission this year to watch all films that had the Best Actor nominations, having just seen Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland, O’ Toole was up next, and after seeing Venus tonight, I really want to stop here now because I firmly believe that without meaning to be the sentimental favourite to win the award because of his age and 8 times nomination and no win so far, O’ Toole deserves to win it this time around. It was his tour-de-force performance as the elderly Maurice that is touching and poignant, without having to resort to over-the-top hysterics that is the life of this film. I cant help but go back to a much younger O’ Toole when he played the iconic Lawrence and here he is at 74 struggling to get out of bed, with a leaking catheter and still getting the odd jobs to support himself, what a stark contrast indeed! Watching O’ Toole was like watching a master performing his craft without much effort required. And this is what great actors are made of, and you might say that O’ Toole really doesnt need some shining gold statuette to prove he’s got acting chops but wouldnt it just be lovely nevertheless?

Watch this film if you’d like to see O’ Toole in one of the finest performances of his career and I am sure you will agree that he is definitely still in the game.

Venus: ****

2 Responses to “Film Review: Venus”

  1. Peter February 4, 2007 at 10:46 am #

    I am afraid you will have yet more reasons not to be interested in the Oscars this year. By the way, if you love this man (as I do), watch also Lord Jim and Good Bye Mr. Chips. Great movies and performances from this genius.

  2. Simone February 4, 2007 at 12:26 pm #

    Yeah, I see what you mean, but I can still hope, right? 😉

    I just added Lord Jim now to my Amazon rental queue, I am desperate to rent Becket too but couldnt find it. Goodbye Mr. Chips too!

    O’ Toole will be in Stardust alongside many other actors.

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