Venus is the story of an aging actor and his friends, coming to terms with their mortality. Maurice (in a wonderfully understated performance) falls in love with his best friend's great niece,Jess, a confused, selfish, immature 19 year old played by Jodie Whittaker.
It is to Whittaker's credit that her performance stands up so well in amongst the likes of O'Toole, Vanessa Redgrave and Leslie Phillips in particular.
Both Maurice and Jess undergo real journeys in this film. Maurice's attention and insight give Jess the confidence to open her horizons. She learns the value of kindnesses in an unkind world. Maurice takes real pleasure in watching her grow, it distracts him, but also gives him pause to reflect on the pain of unrequited love. As he reviews his life, in the light shone by this difficult relationship, he slowly comes to terms with his inevitable demise.
A lot of reviewers are put off by the creepy nature of the (very slightly) physical scenes - all I can say is that they are meant to be disturbing. Maurice is no more a cuddly grandpa than Jess is a sweet, innocent child. What is extraordinary is how sympathetically they are handled.
All I can say is that this is certainly a love it or hate it film; it is so divisive because it is genuinely shocking to see a watery eyed old man pawing a beautiful young girl, and to witness her confusion and discomfort. But not many films have something real to say about old age and dying, so be prepared but do watch it.