There is not much of a market for films about the elderly. At least not much of a market for films that even vaguely attempt to portray the truth about getting and being old. However, every now and then there comes along a film that is worth watching for the way in which it captures the human spirit with all the frailty of old age. I know of only one film that I can wholeheartedly recommend in this genre and one that has moments of beauty and an acting performance worthy of the Oscar nomination that Peter O’Toole received.
I’ll start with Venus. It stars Peter O’Toole and even in his old age he is still as mesmeric on screen as ever (well almost, advancing age has taken its toll somewhat).Without giving away any of the plot, the story shows how two old men are accepting of their decline and at the same time they rail against it. How they need each other for support and find comradeship in people of the same age, whilst one of them in particular yearns for the love and company of the young.
This relationship in particular brings the level of discomfort that both brings the real drama and also prevents the film from reaching the heights of The Straight Story. The Straight Story was directed by David Lynch, he of Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks fame. Which is what makes a story about an old man and his estranged brother all the more touching. The pacing is slow, as befitting the movement of the lead actor; the action is small scale and the denouement so subtle as to leave you feeling that you missed something. But as with Venus the performance of the lead actor, in this case Richard Farnsworth, is outstanding. There is no overarching intention of the film, just a simple, honest story that should warm the heart of even the most jaded cynic.
We all get older each day- some have the grace to accept old age and some fight against it. But finding films, in particular The Straight Story, that show a possible vision of all our futures and still bring a tear to the eye, a warmth to the heart and a smile on your face; well that is a true demonstration of the arts of story telling and film making