7 January 2007 | calquirky
Acting Sans Botox
This is one of those movies that grows on you once the credits are done. Quickly paced, sharply written and deftly acted, Venus is a movie that unfolds so quickly that one is immersed in the action from the very start.
The background is actors living off small pensions and acting jobs in working class London. The cinematography catches the dullness of the surroundings and one is easily transported into this world of sameness, peppered by occasional wonderful lapses back into the magic of acting and well written lines. Their world, and also the girl's world is turned upside down by meeting one another.
O'Toole is wonderful as Maurice, the ex-raconteur who proves that love, lust, flirtation and marvel are attributes that never go away with age. It's a delight to see these feelings rekindled in the old man, and O'Toole is the master of bringing zest and poignancy to the screen. Just going to see him quote Shakespeare is worth it alone. The setting in which he does it is unexpected and moving.
Jodie Whitaker is indeed a fresh new face. Without airs, this actress expertly matches wits with O'Toole. She conveys the right amount of grittiness, insecurity and bravado as a teenage girl thrust into the big city without a concrete plan would. The growth in her character takes place when an event that she has caused takes place, and she must either own up to what she has done, or forever be stuck in the life as a yob's girlfriend.
Vanessa Redgrave and all the others round out an honest cast that isn't afraid to let "Hollywood" see their age. This is acting "sans botox," and what a delight it is to see. This is smart writing, good thinking, and gutsy in a day when actors are expected to look a certain way even in old age. It's a delight, and trounces all stereotypes about aging.
There are lines here which are utterly breathtaking in their insight and playfulness. The writer is to be applauded for not falling back on the "senior citizen" stereotype. O'Toole's character swoons, he drinks in the quixotic experience of remembering the beauty of a naked body, of kissing a woman's neck, of the entire and total experience of falling in love, of pleasure, and of jealousy and of heartbreak as well. Young screenwriters should take note: write against type and delve into the real human experience, the one that everyone else tries to conveniently box away.
Why an 8, and not a 10? There were some choppy bits of editing. I would have liked to see even more growth and recognition in Maurice. Just a bit more from the writers would've brought it all the way home with the same aplomb given by O'Toole. But overall, a movie worth seeing, a performance worth rewarding. Bravo! Well done. Applause for Mr. O'Toole.