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Stars: Peter O'Toole, Jodie Whitaker, Leslie Phillips, Richard Griffiths, Vanessa Redgrave

Director: Roger Michell

O'Toole's wonderfully liquid tones are heard again here (curling round some fiercely coarse dialogue) as an aged actor who becomes infatuated with an uncouth north-country girl (Whittaker) who's looking after an octogenarian acting friend (Phillips) with whom he shares morning coffee.

They also exchange medication. Phillips suggests a sleeping pill. 'It's the waking up pills I'm looking for,' gasps O'Toole. Alas, he's past all that and booked in for a prostrate op. 'There's a strong chance of impotence,' a young doctor assures him cheerfully, 'and incontinence. But you won't be dead and that's a result.'

It doesn't stop the old boy making advances to Jessie, whom he calls Venus, although he lacks the cash to buy her the things he'd like. He tries to show her art and the theatre, and she asks him what it is that he wants. 'Pleasure I like,' he responds. 'I've tried to give pleasure. That's all I can recommend to anyone.'

There are one or two poignant moments towards the end - although the girl's change of heart seems a bit abrupt - and O'Toole is the ageing Thespian to the life; you can almost smell the unwashed hair. Newcomer Whittaker's good, too, but Phillips' halting performance lacks the confidence of his earlier years.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Path?. Colour by Kodak.
95 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 22 Jan 2006