Any movie involving a dying old man and the young object of his affection should, by definition, be unendurable pap, but such a sweeping generalization fails to take into the account the presence of Peter OÂToole, a legend so effortlessly charming that he could make a bowel movement the stuff of high drama. In many ways, heÂs the whole show here, and had a lesser talent been involved, itÂs unlikely that the script would have even seen the light of day. Suitably, OÂToole plays an aging yet beloved actor named Maurice; a man still recognized around London, but who has now been reduced to playing corpses and expiring grandfathers. ItÂs work, after all, and heÂll do what he can to earn a paycheck. His good friend (played with a high level of grouchy resignation by Leslie Philips) has decided to employ a young, snotty caretaker, who quickly catches MauriceÂs eye, even though thereÂs not a goddamn thing he can do about it, as his prostate problems have rendered him impotent and more fit for the slab than anything resembling a bed. Still, heÂd like to think he can have a grand exit, and if he can sneak a few kisses now and again, itÂs worth the effort.
Normally, the prospect of a sagging bag of bones flirting with a girl young enough to be his granddaughter would raise eyebrows as well as whatever one had for lunch, but itÂs never pathetic or perverted with OÂToole on board. His obsession is harmless anyway, as his lust has more to do with a stab at immortality than anything resembling a reasonable courtship. The girl in question is typical London trash; bad grammar, bad attitude, and wholesale ignorance unapologetically on display, which might have something to do with his attraction. After all, what have women of his own class ever brought him but undying grief? SheÂs also convinced sheÂs going to be a model, so Maurice finds her a job taking off her clothes for art students. Needless to say, Maurice wants to sit in, but is forced to watch from the wings, leading to a particularly humorous scene that brings out OÂTooleÂs physical, as well as verbal, gifts. But with that tone of voice and those unforgettable blue eyes raging, OÂToole lends everything gravity, and his bearing — and desperate need to cling to some of his past glory — leads us to believe that this is how a man of his station would be spending his final days.
The movie proceeds much as we would expect: The girl is hostile at first, warms up a bit, brings him grief, then shows up to take that final walk to the sea, so it wonÂt win any prizes for originality. Regarding its plot, itÂs a story that pits youth versus age in ways that are time-tested past the point where anyone should bother to care. Cantankerous old fools would kill to see one last set of tits, regret outweighs contentment, and few things suck as hard as the aging process — these things make the rounds, and surprisingly, weÂre glad to see them. Pleasant diversions are deadly in bunches, but during a festival, they can often be exactly what one needs after listening to assorted cinephiles yammer endlessly about their own coming-never-to-a-theater-near-you projects. And let us always be the sort of people who say to our aged, if youÂve survived disease, illness, depression, and loss, and still have an interest in putting your arthritic claw on some birdÂs knee, you have our blessing.