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Promotional poster for the film
Directed by Roger Michell
Produced by Kevin Loader
Written by Hanif Kureishi
Starring Peter O'Toole
Leslie Phillips
Jodie Whittaker
Richard Griffiths
and Vanessa Redgrave
Music by David Arnold
Corinne Bailey Rae
Cinematography Haris Zambarloukos
Editing by Nicolas Gaster
Distributed by UK:
Buena Vista Pictures
USA: Miramax Films
Release date(s) 2006
Running time 95 min.
Country UK
Language English
Budget £3,000,000[1]

Venus is a 2006 film starring Peter O'Toole, Leslie Phillips, Vanessa Redgrave and Jodie Whittaker. It is directed by Roger Michell and written by Hanif Kureishi.

The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and was put on limited release in the United States on December 15, 2006.



The plot concerns Maurice (Peter O'Toole), an elderly actor who finds himself increasingly attracted to his friend Ian's great-niece Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) while simultaneously finding himself in deteriorating health due to prostate cancer. Maurice's friend describes the great-niece as a trouble maker and a nuisance, but Maurice discovers that Jessie warms up to him when he starts interacting with her. He takes her to the National Gallery in London, England to view his favourite painting, The Rokeby Venus by the Spanish artist Velázquez. Jessie had expressed interest in modeling (Maurice initially mis-hears this as "yodeling") and Maurice arranges for Jessie to model nude for an art class. As a result of Jessie posing for the art class, and inspired by his favourite painting, Maurice decides to give Jessie the nickname "Venus". Maurice and Jessie develop a passive/aggressive relationship over the course of the film. Maurice is forward in terms of his attraction toward Jessie while Jessie occasionally indulges his whims to a limited extent, such as touching her hand and smelling her neck, but also retracts the indulgences when she feels that he has gone too far. The plot of the film revolves around the evolving friendship or relationship between the two characters. For Maurice, this appears to be the last attempt at something approaching a love life, as his prostate operation has left him impotent. For Jessie, it is less clear what she sees in Maurice. During the course of the film we see her do everything from exploiting him (trying to get him to buy her presents, trying to use his flat to have sex with a boy), taking care of him, flirting with him, and rejecting him sexually to engaging with him as a friend. During the course of the film we learn that she has been rejected by her mother and great-uncle for her promiscuous life style; it is implied that she is drawn to Maurice because he doesn't judge her as harshly as her family members have.

The plot comes to a head when Jessie becomes involved with a boy. The two young lovers convince Maurice to take a walk so that they can have sex. Maurice initially obliges the request, but returns to kick them out of his flat. A scuffle ensues and Jessie knocks down Maurice, injuring him. Jessie leaves with the boy and apparently spends the night out partying with him at clubs, later returning to check on Maurice. When the paramedics arrive, Maurice claims he can't remember who attacked him, much to Jessie's surprise. Then Maurice calls for "Venus" to take care of him. Jessie, remorseful, agrees to look after Maurice. Some time later, after Maurice has at least partly recovered, he takes Jessie to the seaside at Whitstable in Kent. As they sit down by the water Maurice says to Jessie "Now, we can really talk," and dies, leaning on her.

Awards and reception

The film opened to generally positive reviews from critics[2]. It was nominated for five British Independent Film Awards and earned Oscar, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Golden Globe nominations for O'Toole as Best Actor. Leslie Phillips also received a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

O'Toole's Oscar nomination marked his eighth Best Actor nomination over a span of forty-five years.[3] However, on February 25, 2007, at the 79th Academy Awards, he was bested by Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), making O'Toole's eight nominations without victory a record.



  1. ^ BBC Interview With the Director
  2. ^ Venus - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
  3. ^ - 80th Annual Academy Awards - Nominee List

External links

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