Feature

Venus

An aging actor falls in love with a self-centered teenager.

When Maurice, a doddering septuagenarian, meets Jessie, the 19-year-old grandniece of his best pal, he falls instantly in love, said Steven Rea in The Philadelphia Inquirer. And it's not the sweet kind of love, either. Peter O'Toole's Maurice watches Jessie with open-mouthed lust, and the working-class girl with the North England accent doesn't mind a bit. 'œYes, the ick factor is huge,' but Venus is more than a May-December cliché. It's a beautiful meditation on intimacy, love, and mortality. Director Roger Michell and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi use this unusual romance to take a serious look at old age, said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. Maurice is a film actor whose prostate cancer and impotence can't halt his libido. Jessie's body parts, referred to by Maurice in the most disgusting terms, offer plump vitality he hasn't seen in years. Though Jessie (newcomer Jodie Whittaker) won't kiss the old man's lips, she does allow him to touch her bare shoulder. This simulation of lovemaking feeds her vanity and his life force. O'Toole delivers 'œone of the great limelight performances of all time,' said Ty Burr in The Boston Globe. Surely the role is uncomfortably close to reality for the actor—his contemporaries are dying in droves. This empathetic, unsentimental performance should earn O'Toole his first Oscar.

Rating: R

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