Movie Review : Behind the Candelabra

 

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According to most reports, this is the movie Hollywood didn’t want to fund. Too gay they said. A movie about Liberace too gay? Noooooooo really? He was a superstar for over 40 years with single name recognition and was adored and beloved because of his over-the-top persona and camp stage show. If his legion of fans didn’t ask, he didn’t tell. He sued anyone who suggested he was gay. And won. But we, in the so-called enlightened 2000’s, cannot find funds to make a movie about this magnificent and extremely talented man. Because it would be too gay……..

Lucky we have HBO and Steven Soderbergh.

Based on the biography of Scott Thorson (Damon), this movie is set in the last 10 years of  Liberace’s (Douglas) life. It recounts his last great love affair with Scott, his flamboyant lifestyle, his vast wealth and ultimately, his death from an AIDS-related illness. The then 50 something meets the 18 year old Scott through a mutual friend. It is not long before the younger man moves in with Liberace, ostensibly as his chauffeur.

We are then taken into the glorified world of the very, very rich. Nothing that Liberace, or Lee as he prefers to be known, wants is beyond his reach. Even a young man more than half his age. And Scott does fall in love with Lee. Now having said that, I am not sure that if Lee had been just an ordinary 50 something man, that Scott would have been so enamoured of him. But this is not a movie about an ordinary man.

 

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Liberace was a gifted pianist and a gifted showman. His flamboyant and camp personality was matched only by his flamboyant shows. He was a true global superstar the likes of which we rarely see….. despite what some of today’s pretenders would have us believe. This man’s name will live on throughout the decades, perhaps the centuries. His piano playing is, of course, on show during the movie but it is by no means a major part. But the small glimpses we do see remind us just how spectacularly talented he was. Take away the glitz and glamour and the talent will still remain.

But this is a movie about a relationship. About two people falling in love and all the highs and lows that go with it. Scott is overwhelmed by the almost needy attentions of Lee.  Lee showers him with gifts of clothing, jewellery and cars. He also requests that Scott have plastic surgery so he can more closely resemble Lee.

Lee’s plastic surgeon, Dr Startz (Lowe) provides one of the movie’s funniest moments with his frozen in place face that he truly believes is a spectacular endorsement for his business. the movie has many funny moments, as you would rightly expect from a Liberace  bio. Lee himself manages to land a few zingers.

I loved this movie. Douglas was superb as Liberace, playing it all very camp without becoming a caricature of the man. Damon was fantastic as the young Scott, belying the fact that he is in real life, a man in his 40’s. His physical transformations throughout the movie were impressive. Soderbergh has done a great job of bringing this story to life, his eye for detail and his attention to snark is always welcome.

I was captivated for the entire 2 hours. There was never a dull moment and I cannot see why there was ever an issue getting this movie made. It is most assuredly gay…..but not too gay  …whatever that might mean. Only the most Neanderthal and homophobic of people would find this movie too gay. But then this isn’t a fighting or car or tits and arse movie so they wouldn’t even be watching.

This is one to watch if you like some glitz and glamour and kitschy camp with a great story and some fabulous acting.

Thank you to Tower Cinemas Newcastle for their hospitality…..

Love Flick x

 

Director : Steven Soderbergh

Starring : Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Rob Lowe, Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula, Eric Zuckerman, Debbie Reynolds, Cheyenne Jackson, Jane Morris, Garrett M. Brown

Running Time : 118 minutes

Release Date : In Cinemas Now

 

2 comments on “Movie Review : Behind the Candelabra

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