Venus (15)

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The Independent Culture

On Tuesday, Peter O'Toole got an Oscar nomination - his eighth - for Venus, but the nod wasn't about one specific performance: it was a tribute to his life and work as a whole. You could say the same about this film. Essentially one long curtain call for O'Toole, it stars the legendary actor as a slightly less legendary actor.

He pays the rent by playing corpses in TV medical dramas, and when he's not doing that he's slouching in a café with two fellow old stagers, Leslie Phillips and Richard Griffiths, scanning the obituary columns. But he perks up when Phillips's grand-niece (Jodie Whittaker) comes to stay. Phillips is appalled by the Vicky Pollard who's squatting in his flat, but O'Toole is besotted.

Written by Hanif Kureishi, Venus is a threadbare comedy-drama, with an insubstantial story and the patronising, post-Pygmalion theme of a working-class slob being reformed by the power of art. It may enhance the audience's affection for O'Toole and Phillips, but it doesn't do much else.