Friday, October 20, 2006

VENUS - Brit comedic drama at its best

Another wicked comedy at the London Film Festival courtesy of Hanif Kureighi (MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE) and Roger Michell (NOTTING HILL). In just 90 minutes you get laugh-out-loud comedy and serious emotion - a great cinema experience. The story focuses on a bunch of ageing luvvies played by the still scoundrelous Peter O'Toole, Leslie Philips, Richard Griffiths and Vanessa Redgrave. Into their world of cash-in-hand bit parts, solid drinking and cursing stumbles a pot-noodle-eating, mini-skirt-wearing, Alcopop-guzzling chav. She's Leslie Philips' character's grand-neice and is meant to be helping him out while lookin for a job. He can't stand her and the joy of the movie is that it confronts our prejudices about her. As the movie unravels and Peter O'Toole takes her under his wing we see that she is a decent if conflicted girl. At least, no less decent than O'Toole's lascivious old rogue.

This being a script by Kureishi, the humour is course though literary, the emotions seem real and sexuality is dealt with in a head-on manner. That - in combination with the fact the older people are treated as "normal" - not made into wise old women, or grumpy old men - is refreshing. The acting is tremendous - especially from O'Toole and Jodie Whittaker - the girl playing "Venus". The photography is rubbish, of course - but that's probably the point. London - filmed on super-16 with no attempts to hide the damp grey grimness of it - looks rubbish as does Whitstable. If there is any point to this film it is that underneath surfaces that look rough, worn, low you can still find friendship, love and vitality.

VENUS played Telluride, Toronto and London 2006 and opens in the US on December 15th. It opens in the UK on January 26th 2007.

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