And so, to the cinema, to see the new British movie Venus starring Leslie Philips and Peter O’Toole as old friends Ian and Maurice. They are fellow actors of the type who had decent careers while never breaking through to the big time. The pair spend their semi-retirement mulling over obituaries in the café, and bickering like husband and wife. Maurice is having trouble with his prostate and is reduced to playing corpses on TV (“typecasting,” jokes his ex-wife).
Their routine is disturbed by the arrival of Ian’s great-niece Jessie played by Jodie Whittaker, who comes to London from the north, ostensibly to care for her relative while searching for work. Ian, who expects a dutiful servant, is disappointed. She turns out to be surly, self-centered, idle, ignorant, foul mouthed and a prodigious drinker and smoker. Despite Jessie’s shortcomings, Maurice takes a shine to her and decides to undertake her education. Now doesn’t that sound just like the synopsis of a spanking porn film? Or at least a mainstream film that’s sure to have a spanking scene in it?
The excellent Jodie Whittaker, certainly goes straight to the top of my Most Spankable Celebrity 2007 list . Unfortunately, she does not get initiated into the Cinema Spanking Hall of Fame, in spite of almost every scene that she is in providing a potential provocation. This omission is all the more disappointing considering that O’Toole’s character is clearly a bottom worshipper, as he names Jessie ‘Venus’ after the famous painting by Velázquez in the National Gallery. This nude, by a painter who normally didn’t do nudes, features arguably the most beautiful bottom in all art.
The scene in which the pair see the painting is pictured here. O’Toole and Whittaker bounce off each other brilliantly, and it is actually appropriate and sweet when he nicknames her Venus, after the painting. As well as art, the script also plays with literature and pop culture (when Maurice quotes Shakespeare, Jessie counters with Kylie ). But my favourite moment is when O’Toole’s character quotes a poem by Philip Larkin which should be called something like “The Spanker’s Elegy”, but is actually called much more boringly, “Administration”:
Day by day your estimation clocks up
Who deserves a smile and who a frown,
And girls you have to tell to pull their socks up,
Are those whose pants you’d most like to pull down