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Venus

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 94 Minutes

MPAA Rating: R (For Language, Some Sexual Content and Brief Nudity)

Starring: Peter O'Toole, Leslie Philips, Jodie Whitaker, Richard Griffiths and Vanessa Redgrave

Written by: Hanif Kureisi

Directed by: Roger Michell

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Roger Michell and Producer Kevin Loader, Deleted Scenes, Venus: A Real Work Of Art

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (15 Scenes)

Released: May 22nd, 2007

 

"Venus" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and looks pretty good overall. Fleshtones look nice, detail is pretty good and the movie often looks pretty sharp, with strong color saturation. However, in the more darkly lit scenes, the transfer struggles a bit. This may have to do with the low budget of the movie, but things can get a bit murky and really grainy. Other flaws include some blemishes on the print, lots of edge halos and a good deal of noise. Still, even with those flaws apparent, they were never too distracting. In all, this is a solid transfer that captures the intimacies and environment of the characters remarkably well.

 

There's an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track that works well, given how dialogue heavy the film is. The dialogue sounds pitch-perfect: loud, very clear and really crisp. The distinct voices of the characters sound great, and really puts you with them. As you'd expect, there really aren't surrounds to be had other than some background sound effects here and there, but the musical score and the lovely, soul-infused tunes from Corine Bailey Rae fill the speakers up with life and a nice smoothness. English closed captions and English subtitles are included, too.

 

An Audio Commentary with Director Roger Michell and Producer Kevin Loader is on the disc (plus subtitles are available for the track). It's pretty dry and a little slow-going at times (like the movie itself), but pretty rewarding. Loader begins the commentary by alluding to some trouble getting funding for the film, and from there, the two branch out with a lot of stories about the script and production. Michell speaks sometimes about the evolution of Kureseil's script, and there's bits on locations too. Some narrating goes on to what's happening on screen, but in all, there's enough interesting tidbits to give the track a listen if you enjoyed the film - or at least a commentary to skim through.

There are four Deleted Scenes, presented in rough non-anamorphic widescreen (there are timecodes on the scenes). The scenes ("Hospital," "Readling Lines," "Family Problems" and "Victoria Station") lasted about four minutes in total. No commentary is available, and while the scenes don't really add to the movie (they're really just small character moments), if they were put back into the 95 minute running time I don't think it would have diminished the film's pacing. Still, they are here and worth looking at.

Finally, there's the featurette Venus: A Real Work Of Art, that lasts about fourteen minutes. It's a nice little piece, where the filmmakers and cast discuss the plot of the movie and its themes. Hanif Kureishi, the screenwriter, discusses his inspiration and writing the script. Roger Michell discusses the film's appeal, and there's a lot about the actors - Peter O'Toole being cast and his legendary acting, and O'Toole's help in picking the co-stars (such as the veteran actor Leslie Philips, who Michell states was "amazed" to get the role). There's also a bit on Jodie Whittaker, and we even get to see some of her audition tape. In all, this is an excellent reflection of the film's production, its actors and the film itself. I wish it went on a bit longer.

 

Peter O'Toole might be playing himself to a large extent in "Venus," but there should not be any arguing that it is one of his most nunanced and delightful performances in his storied career. As far as a film, "Venus" is a bit uneven but a sublime meditation on love and aging. The DVD is pretty good: the extras are fine, the transfer looks good and the 5.1 track is suitable for the material. If you missed it in theaters, be sure to give "Venus" a rental.