All the planets may be aligned around “Venus”, but there’s one star up here who you just don’t want to be seeing doing it the ‘Milky Way’ with a youngin’ : Peter O’Toole. Hey!!? Come back!


Peter O’Toole, Jodie Whitaker

All the planets may be aligned around “Venus”, but there’s one star up here who you just don’t want to be seeing doing it the ‘Milky Way’ with a youngin’ : Peter O’Toole. Hey!!? Come back!

Yep, the aged veteran of classic cinema rides into James Mason-ville to front this “Lolita”-esque story of a legendary actor and his young – very young – caretaker who smack bang into the middle of a May-November romance, and ignore the sniggers and snares of the censorious and cautious.

Maurice and Ian are old friends, and veteran actors, who never really cracked the big one. Now in their twilight years, they continue to put food on the table by way of their profession, but their lives have just got a little too comfortable and well, a little boring. Enter, Jessie (Jodie Whitaker), Ian’s plucky grand-niece. She quickly tries her great-uncle’s patience; but Maurice is taken with the girl, and proceeds to show her the cultural sights of the capital. One thing leads to another and wham… we’ve got a newspaper headline in the making.

Now while the chunks may be flying once O’Toole’s mutters, “Have you ever made love”? to the young darling (I tell ya, my lunch almost left the building), I do have to admit, the storyline doesn’t drip with as much as sleaze as it could’ve – and its partly due to O’Toole’s terrific performance.

O’Toole plays the character with such wit, aptitude and old-style charm that in some ways, you can kind of understand why a young and impressionable woman might fall for him. He’s so extremely likeable in the film that you’ll possibly overlook any injustices of the script.

Possibly.

Director Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”) seems unsure how to handle the balance between the romantic and comedic stuff, with the film sometimes resembling a strange mish-mash of “Grumpy Old Men” and “Nobody’s Fool” by way of “Lolita”. And let’s admit it, whatever way you carve it it’s still hard to swallow O’Toole and Phillips sharing a sack.

Bananarama won’t be writing a song about this “Venus”, but the Academy might be writing its star on a ballot sheet come late January.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris