Behind the Candelabra (2013) Directed by Steven Soderbergh. With Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Rob Lowe, Dan Ackroyd, Debbie Reynolds and Scott Bakula.
Based on the memoir of Scott Thorson, Behind the Candelabra :My Life with Liberace, and starring Michael Douglas as the famed pianist, with Matt Damon as his ertswhile lover, comes this fascinating drama/love story covering the ten year period of their peculiar relationship.
With Oceans Eleven director, Steven Soderbergh at the helm, there’s an assurance that were in the hands of someone who knows how to depict the required glamour. The opulence of the production design is perfection, as is the small attention to detail that houses an array of stellar performances headed up by Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.
The bravery of both actors is front and centre as the two men, previously best known for their macho and very heterosexual cinematic exploits, cosy up together for some convincingly played moments of intimacy. As Liberace, Douglas is truly magnificent. His ability to capture the essence of his extravagant subject, using every nuance, is a true sight to behold. It’s a performance that inhabits great humour, charm and a little creepiness for good measure.
There is a strand of comedy running alongside the drama, a strand that comes to the fore in a scene involving a discussion about facial reconstruction via Rob Lowe’s plastic surgeon, Dr Jack Startz. Lowe’s scene stealing, expressionless depiction is all at once funny, yet tragically symptomatic of how overly wealthy, self absorbed individuals can harm themselves amid an over-reaching sense of vanity.
This isn’t a film that will teach you much about Liberace’s origins, or how he came to be the eccentric “old queen” that he was. Instead, it shares ground with Soderbergh’s other recent offering, Magic Mike, in that it’s more about an extraordinary, yet isolated man, trying to find just a little bit of ordinary in his life. 4/5