On the surface, Keeping Mum and Venus would seem to have little in common besides the age of their leading actor. One is a comic romp with Maggie Smith and the other is a dramatic look at Peter O'Toole's pervy old man (Peter O'Toole is just 2 years older than Maggie Smith). However, in addition to age, at the end of both, some people are dead. Okay - that was a weak way to link two movies I saw on DVD recently. I really liked Keeping Mum - Maggie Smith stars as a woman with little or no moral compass that has just finished her sentence for murdering her husband and his mistress, and has arrived to meet the daughter she never got to know, and of course to make tea (She's British first and foremost). Kristen Scoot Thomas and Rowan Atkinson play her daughter and her son-in-law. Atkinson is terrific, letting go of his Mr. Bean persona, while still retaining the bumbling innocence that makes him worth watching as the local parson rediscoving his faith and his wife. Their marriage is falling apart and Smith uses her murderous ways to improve their lives, first by taking care of the energetic pooch next door who's been disrupting their sleep. It continues with macabre humor from there. Oh, and Patrick Swayze also stars in this as Thomas' golf coach. Very funny movie, told in a very dry, British, eyebrow raising, let's have a cup of tea and ignore the murderer way.
Venus is not such a great tale, though Peter O'Toole is brilliant,but it's not all that interesting watching him play a pervy impotent guy who is trying to hold on to life by befriending his best friend's niece. I vaguely remember it being sold as a story about new friendships, but basically his "friend" is a mean little girl just trying to get ahead. O'Toole hurts his loyal fellow actors in an effort to stay close to his "Venus". At first, it seemed like a movie about a young girl learning from an older, wiser friend, but she was just bitchy, and not really worth Peter O'Toole's time, though he failed to see it. So watch Keeping Mum, and skip Venus.
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