“Notting Hill”. It’s written in red on the cover of the DVD and it sticks out more than even the title of the film itself.
And certainly – Venus has the same director as the hugely successful feel-good movie – Roger Michell. Notting Hill is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. Even if I sometimes doubt the greatness of Hugh Grant, thinking he pretty much plays the same character in every move, even if Julia Roberts is about as alive and human as a Barbie doll – that movie is like candy. I enjoy eating it once in a while. As long as I moderate it I won’t fall sick. I’m afraid I’m a hopeless romantic.
But even if Venus has the same director, this film is quite different in character. To be honest I think that anyone who hopes for a bit of pleasant romance will be quite disappointed.
Hoping for bitterseet
Don’t get me wrong, I personally didn’t expect another Notting Hill, despite the marketing, but I have to admit that I hoped for something a little bit more bittersweet. You know that kind of relationship that walks on the line between friendship and love, that flourishes in spite of the bad odds, the impossibility, the complications. (Yes, Lost in Translation is one of my favorite movies). But Venus is nothing like that. The age difference between the old man and the woman is more than a little bump in the road; it’s a barrier that at least made me feel quite uncomfortable on many occasions. And the director surely doesn’t make it easy for you; there’s no sugarcoating of the fact that the old man wants the girl THAT way or that she takes advantage of him, while being quite disgusted at the same time.
I don’t agree entirely on the labeling of it as a “comedy”. I don’t deny that there’s some of the scenes contain a bit of black humor and there are a few well put lines, but I didn’t find myself laughing a lot, I didn’t giggle or even smile. Maybe I have a humor deficiency; maybe it’s related to my own yet-to-be-solved issues of coming to terms with aging.
Peter O Tool
So the movie wasn’t quite what I expected. It’s not a bad film though. What especially will stay in my mind was Peter O’ Tool’s magnificent performance as the old man. He was rightfully Oscar nominated for it. Even if Venus never will qualify on any of my lists of favorite movies, it’s well worth seeing if only to enjoy the old version of Peter O’ Tool. Vanessa Redgrave appearing in a supporting role, playing his wife, is also wonderful. I would have loved to see more of their story and relationship explored. The glimpses we got raised my curiosity more than the main plot.
Venus (Michell,UK 2006) My rating: 4/5 (honouring the performance of Peter O’ Tool)