VENICE, Italy >> The older stars are shining the brightest at the Venice Film Festival — and having much of the fun.
A playful Robert Redford and Jane Fonda brought undimmed glitter to the festival today along with their late-life romance “Our Souls at Night.”
More than five decades after they first shared the screen, they star in the Netflix-produced drama as widowed neighbors who forge a relationship.
Judging by the star-struck reaction from Venice audiences, the chemistry that lit up the 1967 romantic comedy film “Barefoot in the Park” — one of their most memorable pairings — remains strong.
Fonda said she loves the fact “that these films bookend our careers.”
In “Barefoot in the Park,” she told reporters, “we played that young love just getting married and now we’ve played old people’s love — and old people’s sex.”
“Although in my opinion Ritesh cut the sex scene too soon,” Fonda added, referring to director Ritesh Batra.
Of Redford, she said: “I live for sex scenes with him.”
The 81-year-old Redford and 79-year-old Fonda each are receiving a lifetime achievement award from the festival Friday.
They are among a plethora of older stars at the Venice fest, which runs to Sept. 9. Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland and Michael Caine are all due to make appearances onscreen and on the red carpet.
Redford produced “Our Souls at Night,” which is based on a novel by Kent Haruf. He said he did it in part because the youth-obsessed movie business doesn’t make enough films for older audiences.
Fonda said she thought the representation of older people was improving, pointing to the Netflix show “Grace and Frankie,” in which she plays a newly single woman.
“I’ve had three lovers already in that series,” she said. “I’m just so happy we’re giving a cultural face to older women. “
And she said love and sex got better with age, “because, first of all, we’re braver — what the heck to we have to lose? So my skin sags — so does his.”
The two screen icons say they were thrilled to work together again, and it shows in the warmth of their on-screen relationship.
“I wanted to do another film with her before I died,” Redford said.
Fonda said her characters were often in love with Redford’s, and “I wanted to see what it was like to fall in love with him again.”
“It was fun to kiss him in my 20s and then to kiss him again in my almost-80s,” she said.