Saturday, December 15, 2007

Venus, a Movie of Love, Friendship, and Being Old

Venus, a movie released in December 2006, is a wonderful poignant vehicle for Peter O'Toole, who once again engages us with an unforgettable performance. Portraying Maurice, an aging, has been actor relegated to bit parts ( such as corpses), O'Toole generates a charming character.Once a ladies man and not too responsible husband, he now spends his days in coffee shops with similarly aging has been actor friend, Ian ( Leslie Phillips.) Into their lives come Venus (Jodie Whitaker), Ian's niece from the country, sent to the city to look after Ian while looking for a modeling job. She quickly disrupts Ian's and Maurice's lives with her narcissistic, self-absorbed , flirtatious lifestyle. She becomes a catalyst for Maurice' coming alive once again as he relentlessly pursues his growing infatuation. Sadly, she tantalizes him with simple pleasures such as allowing him to touch her bare shoulders for which he is immensely grateful. He, in turn, showers her with presents , pays for her tattoo, and takes her to movies sets and museums.

We are reminded how love is alive at any age. Love and sex remain a vital part of many older adult couples. The August 2007 volume of the New England Journal of Medicine contains the University of Chicago's National Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) which shows that there is only slight decline in sexual activity from age 50 to 70 and that older adults can and do participate in sexual activity well into their 80's. Dr. Stacy Tesser Lindauer reports that health rather than age is a bigger factor in sexual function.

The need for touch is a universal need at any age. Little wonder that there is that bond between grandchildren and grandparents, children having no qualms about hugging nana or poppa or touching their faces. Children do not see age as a barrier.

The movie moves us to think through very difficult issues of aging and the universal fear of facing the end of our lives alone. It looks at friendships, among men and peers, between Maurice and his ex-wife ( played by Vanessa Redgrave.) The actors' masterful performance, subtly draws us to look into our own future and the inevitability of growing old. O'Toole is perfect in the role, ( maybe as good as inLawrence of Arabia.) And Whitaker holds her own as the characters take us to their transformation. Even as Venus selfishly takes advantage of Maurice' infatuation, we see Maurice, an old man come alive at the end of his days and Venus evolve into a more caring woman.

This is a thought provoking movie. Watch the movie for Peter O'Toole. Watch the movie for yourself.

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