This movie is most notable for Peter O’Toole’s Oscar-nominated performance as an elderly actor who is witty, charming and something of a reprobate. It is a superb performance, but somehow I wonder if it is really much of a stretch for him.
We start with two over-the-hill actors, Maurice (O’Toole) and Ian (Leslie Phillips). Ian is a fussy old hypochondriac who has just agreed to allow his grand-niece to move into his apartment to take care of him. He anticipates home-cooked meals and tender loving care, so he is bitterly disappointed when Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) turns out to be a foul-mouthed, ignorant girl who can’t cook without a microwave and drinks up all his Scotch.
Maurice on the other hand hits it off quite well with Jessie. The old man who is determined to squeeze everything he can out of life, and the young woman who doesn’t know what she wants from life, each seem to have something the other needs–which is odd since on the face of it they have nothing in common.
I was worried that this was going to turn out to be some sort of Woody Allen-style wish-fulfillment fantasy, but it doesn’t work out that way. For one thing, Maurice is far too decrepit to carry on an affair. (He seems willing to try, but Jessie has no intention of going along.) Also Jessie is much to shallow to qualify as one of Allen’s idealized younger women.
I’m not sure that I would call this a comedy. It is sometimes funny, sometimes disquieting and sometimes sad. However the characters are believable and the performances are excellent, good enough to make the movie worth seeing on that basis alone.