Venus won’t elicit many swoons, but if Roger Michell’s film never quite musters the energy to be more than a placid hybrid of Nobody’s Fool and Lolita, it nonetheless provides a satisfactory showcase for Peter O’Toole. In the familiar role of a once-famous actor prone to drink, the aged O’Toole proves he still knows how to wield that thundering, magisterial voice – regal yet playful, and always a surprise coming from such a slender, lithe figure – and though he’s unable to elevate corny moments such as a peeping-tom pratfall better suited for Ben Stiller, his quiet, mildly pathetic nobility lends weight to Hanif Kureishi’s lurching story. Uncomfortably vacillating between cute comedic bickering and hungry erotic longing, Venus traces Maurice’s (O’Toole) relationships with both best friend Ian (Leslie Phillips) – with whom he swaps medication, shares booze, and cuts toenails – and Ian’s niece Jessie (Jodie Whittaker), the latter beginning as a Pygmalion affair but soon becoming something more overtly sexual. Any commentary on the evolving nature of desire, however, is somewhat stymied by the fact that Michell, because Kureishi’s script speeds past its creepily tender moments to make time for senior citizen humor, fails to fully explore his May-December romance’s physical aspect. It’s an inadequacy that leaves the film – aside from graceful moments steeped in regret and raw hurt shared between O’Toole and Vanessa Redgrave (as Maurice’s wife) – an awkward mélange of scenes featuring its star staring lasciviously at his nubile object of affection, and then carrying on with his grumpy old pal as if they were a married couple.