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Friday, June 6, 2008

VENUS (2006)

Peter O’Toole has been looking glamorously wasted for decades, but in spite of being able to coast on presence alone, nothing has calcified his great talent. Kudos to Roger Michell, who helmed the fine Jane Austen adaptation of PERSUASION/’95, for asking for the actor as well as the man. The script tries too hard for memorable sentimental moments (a waltz between two old coots, pill-swapping breakfasts, last walks; set-ups all, no matter how camouflaged by Hanif Kureshi’s potty-mouthed script), but O’Toole is able to make his randy old man come off as gallant, mainly because the young object of his attentions (Jodie Whitaker) is such a mug. The shock of the thing is watching O’Toole make like his old acting partner Kate Hepburn, leaning on lost youth & beauty for audience rapport while covering up his sagging neckline with swatches, and letting decrepitude pass for great acting. Damned if it ain’t.

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