November 15, 2014


This is a splendid meditation on aging, if not mortality. What makes it sweet versus morbid is in the ability to find comedy in this natural fact of life: we age. And when we age, we look back in hindsight at the years in which we never considered death a reality, or at least something impending. It no doubt changes an individual’s perception of how they live, which is understandable then why the elderly or the aging become more conservative with them. It is not so much that they are more fearful as it is they are wiser, and thus see the value of prudence in planning when making decisions in their lives versus acting out of sheer instinct.


I appreciate the British’s reverence for the theatre. Indeed, what other heritage in this modern world, defined by the stark demarcation of the introduction of Greek culture into Christianity which is noted as the Renaissance, has placed its artistic riches in the play-stage? To be certain, certain giants which must not be named enable such an inheritance – yet such giants appear for an explicit reason that their talent was craved. In turn, the actor has become a very English phenomenon, which necessarily ameliorated the adoption of cinema, because of the extension of the Anglo-American cultural synchronicity.


This long introduction is to simply admire the meditation on a theatre actor found in this British film over a movie actor which would be the treated subject in an American work of the same nature. This also further delineates the stage actor as more mysterious, more of an artist and mystic then those which crave the spotlight. Peter O’Toole plays ironically a performance he was born to play, a performance which any dying actor ought to crave to be given the opportunity to fill. For through this character, Mr. O’Toole is able to meditate profoundly on the meaning of life, through the relatable lens of the artist.


His struggles with age are made apparent with his Venus, who he admires in all of her provinciality. He really is admiring the hand of God as he touches her nubile palm, like a man thirsty in the desert who has now found a watering well and is in a meditative moment of gratitude. As he is exiting this world, he begins to wonder at its beauty as if he is seeing it for the first time. This is why he wants to occupy his time as much as possible with this young woman, despite her glaring flaws.

And he, too, accepts in his mortality is own imperfections. This is not to say he was a proud man before; rather, we can see him making peace with himself and how he chose to live his life. The emphasis being choice, the defining feature of the human condition – the freedom to become what one wishes to be.


He chooses to be nurtured by beauty and by love as the film progresses, because this is how he wants to remember the world. This is how, in other words, he sought to live his life towards: the essence of Venus.


Grade: A+



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