Thursday, September 20, 2007
Venus is a kind, sad, funny, realistic look at growing older.
It started out (in the writer's head -- Hanif Kureishi, who also wrote My Beautiful Laundrette) as a story about two old men; but, in the writing and the planning for the movie, a young woman appeared. Now, the central story is about the friendship between an old man and a young woman. The central truth of the film is that, while a young woman may or may not be creeped out by an old man (and, moreover, she has a young life and nothing in the old man's life is even in her sphere of consciousness), age is irrelevant to whether or not an older man -- or an old man -- or a very, very old man is attracted to a young woman. Life and a desire for life continues to the end.
The movie is shaped by extraordinary performances from Peter O'Toole in the main role, and by Vanessa Redgrave in a brilliant supporting role. Leslie Phillips as Peter's friend, and Jodie Whittaker (Venus) in her first big film role are also very good.
(A little note: Peter O'Toole performs, beautifully, in the best British tradition, the sonnet, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day..." to Venus, and it works, beautifully, helping to seduce her into being his friend. But, in reality, the meaning of the poem is completely different from the reality of the situation. First, the poem continues... "Thou art more lovely (yes) and more temperate (Nope, sorry!) ..." Venus is anything but temperate. And, finally, the poem is really about the poet making the subject of the poem immortal ("So long as men can breathe or eyes can see...") through his verse, which has no relevance to their relationship; and, anyway, Venus would be unlikely to be flattered by him thinking of her dying. Fortunately, Venus has no clue what the poem is really about: it just sounds nice.)