"Venus" directed by Roger Mitchell [review]
Prescott, Nicholas Adrian
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Actors who might for one reason or another be termed “iconic” come in a number of importantly different categories. Some screen icons are memorable primarily because they’re extraordinarily good looking: Catherine Zeta-Jones and Pierce Brosnan, for example, are arguably about as smashing-looking as human beings have any right to be, yet, fine actors though they certainly are, their work hasn’t really stopped the medium in its tracks. There are some screen actors who become icons of a particular generation (James Dean is an obvious example), and some who become iconic for more confronting reasons (Linda Lovelace, perhaps). Beyond all of these memorable personalities, however, are the unassailable, engrave-their-names-in-marble-at-the-parthenon-door types, screen legends whose incandescence will almost certainly last forever. I believe Peter O’Toole is such a performer. From his career-making turn as Lawrence of Arabia (which was filmed, astonishingly, 45 years ago) through effortlessly wonderful work in a career that has spanned over seventy films including The Lion in Winter (1968) The Stunt Man (1980) and The Last Emperor (1987), not to mention a stage pedigree to goggle at, O’Toole has proven consistently that he has the smarts, the gravitas, the comic timing, the vocal control, the performative deftness and the indefinable magnetism to absolutely command the screen in any circumstance. With Venus he shows us that he can still do this, brilliantly, at 76 years of age.