Venus (UK, 2006)

Decrepit virility

Decrepit virility

Age is often represented as a joke and laughing about a difficult situation is a good way of dealing with it. However, many old people are not in difficult situations and they are also greatly under-represented in film. Thus Venus would be welcome simply because two of its central characters are old: O’Toole is in his 70s and Philips is in his 80s. Both characters are in difficult situations as they struggle to manage alone, and their lonely, lives and this – along with the young, proletariat-Northerner (Jodie Whittaker) – creates the drama.

The casting is terrific: both men were stars in the 1960s: O’Toole as the handsome leading man and Philips the lothario in British comedy; not forgetting Vanessa Redgrave – as O’Toole’s wife – who was the gamine lead of Blowup (1966). They carry their personas with them giving a sense of their pasts so we can understand what they were and how frustrating it must be to be what they have become.

I haven’t seen sriptwirter Hanif Kureishi-director Roger Michell’s The Mother (2003) which is similarly unconventional in dealing with an old-young relationship but I shall have to catch it.


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