Cert: 15 Runtime: 118 mins Director: Steven Soderbergh Cast: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Dan Aykroyd and Rob Lowe
I love to give the people a good time
So to British people I assume that we don’t really know much about Liberace, but he basically was the highest paid entertainer in the world during the 70’s/80’s. Steven Soderbergh is at the helm, with Michael Douglas starring as the flamboyant show man. The film follows Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), a young gay man raised in foster homes, is introduced to flamboyant entertainment giant Liberace (Michael Douglas) and quickly finds himself in a romantic relationship with the legendary pianist. Swaddled in wealth and excess, Scott and Liberace have a long affair, one that eventually Scott begins to find suffocating. Kept away from the outside world by the flashily effeminate yet deeply closeted Liberace, and submitting to extreme makeovers and even plastic surgery at the behest of his lover, Scott eventually rebels. When Liberace finds himself a new lover, Scott is tossed on the street. He then seeks legal redress for what he feels he has lost. But throughout, the bond between the young man and the star never completely tears.Liberace is played by Michael Douglas in one of the bravest roles of his career. So brave and powerful that it’s unfortunate that because of the film’s TV movie status it is ineligible for an Academy Award nomination. Douglas is an actor who is never conventional with his role choice The diversity in role choice is stunning.Matt Damon appears at his youngest as Liberace’s lover Scott, in an equally conflicted, complex performance. Damon fills the shoes of the role beautifully and effectively, giving off much in the way of creative energy and heart as he shows just how stressed and torn Thorson must’ve been in a relationship with someone who truly loved and understood him but wanted to manipulate him.
Supporting performances from Rob Lowe as Liberace’s doctor, prescribing medicines to both him and Thorson and Dan Aykroyd as his manager are terrific and often are seen providing strong comic relief.For a TV movie to have the cinematography and atmosphere that Behind the Candelabra does is truly a feature worth nothing. It may not be as excessive as Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby – I don’t expect anything of the next two years to be on par with that film – but rarely has a TV movie achieved such phenomenally vibrant and luscious standards. The only thing that could make it better is Soderbergh proving he knows how to work with it and he most certainly does.HBO seems to be the go-to network for biographical films about figures that wouldn’t likely make appropriate return in the theaters (Behind the Candelabra especially considering the summer movie season has already hit the ground running). David Mamet, just a few months ago, directed the delightful and shockingly unbiased Phil Spector, with actors like Al Pacino and Helen Mirren receiving top-billing. Seeing as a Liberace biopic is directed by none other than Soderbergh, I wouldn’t be surprised at seeing a slew of films about eclectic media figures being made and released on HBO in the next few years.