Film Review – Behind the Candelabra

Given that winter appears to have set in on exactly Day 1 of winter, last night seemed like a perfect time to get started on one of the many films I have ready and waiting, starting with Behind the Candelabra.

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Behind the Candelabra is Steven Soderbergh’s a Liberace biopic, based on the book of the same name by his former live in lover Scott Thorson. I have been interested in seeing this film for quite some time, as there has been plenty of chatter about it on various entertainment programs, particularly as it stars Michael Douglas as Liberace, and Matt Damon as his lover Scott.

In the U.S. this film has already had its fair share of drama, as none of the main studios would put up funding for the film, labelling it ‘too gay’. Personally I think there is some sort of irony that a film about a man who was believed to be straight almost until his death is considered ‘too gay’ for major movie studios. Within the film itself there is a fabulous scene in which Douglas as Liberace advises a group of young entertainers to avoid getting caught up in politics and just entertain…a veiled political statement perhaps? The film does takes Liberace’s advise to ‘just entertain’, and after seeing it, I really don’t understand the reaction about being ‘too gay’ (whatever that is) – for a film about the relationship between these two men, the amount of sex scenes was fairly minimal, and certainly not in the least bit graphic, but hey, what do I know?

Anyway, thankfully HBO came to the rescue and the film (now a tele movie?) was screened in the U.S last week, to largely positive reviews. Apparently we in Australia will be lucky enough to gain a theatrical release, around July according to various websites.

I found this film really enjoyable for several reasons, not least of which the fact that it could have gone too over the top into the realm of camp (after all it wouldn’t be Liberace without capes and rhinestones galore) and made the storyline secondary. Instead, what really impresses are the nuanced performances of Douglas and Damon; at several points there was a real tenderness expressed which was unexpected.

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The support cast were also outstanding – a special word on the makeup effects, which made Damon and Rob Lowe almost unrecognisable by the end of the film, emphasising the ravages of drugs and ‘The California Diet’.

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Overall, this is definitely one I can recommend, and I look forward to seeing it on the big screen in Sydney.

Here are some links for further info:

http://www.examiner.com/article/soderbergh-s-liberace-biopic-too-gay-for-major-movie-studios-airing-on-hbo?cid=taboola_inbound

http://www.examiner.com/article/liberace-docudrama-movie-behind-the-candelabra-gets-rave-reviews-awards-talk

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