DVD Review: Venus

Miramax
Movie •••½ Picture •••½ Sound ••• Extras •••
Peter O'Toole didn't win the Best Actor Oscar for Venus, but no matter: No one else could have made this otherwise sad tale of a lecherous thespian seeking one last conquest - of a girl 60 years his junior (Jodie Whittaker) - seem joyous. A sharp transfer brings added intimacy to the memorable performances and spotlights the film's unsung hero: London. The unusual locales that director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) takes us to come to life in the transfer, whose colors are rich but not overhyped. And the 5.1-channel mix, though dialogue-focused, still brims with ambient sounds of the city.

While the 13-minute featurette at the heart of the extras seems slight, it does shed light on how rarely such juicy roles are made available to older actors like Vanessa Redgrave, Leslie Phillips, and O'Toole. The deleted scenes are also modest, totaling only 4 minutes. But one of them - a bittersweet encounter between the ex-spouses played by O'Toole and Redgrave - deserved to have been included in the film. There's also a commentary by Michell and producer Kevin Loader, but it's rather sleepy and merely covers the basics. If only O'Toole had joined them ...

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