Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Behind the Candelabra (2013)

'Behind the Candelabra' Trailer 

Genre: Drama, Biography
Starring: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Rob Lowe
Director: Steven Soderbergh
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
My Rating: 7.9/10
Runtime: 1hr 58mins

Synopsis: Soderbergh's excellent biopic brings us into the world of the extravagant pianist and vocalist, Vladziu Valentino Liberace, whose career spanned over 4 decades, and between the 1950s-1970s was the world's highest-paid entertainer. Liberace went to great lengths to hide his homosexuality from the world and sued any newspaper that suggested he was gay, however, the undeniable truth eventually came out (no pun intended) via his young lover, Scott Thorson, who published a book about their relationship together a year after Liberace's death from AIDS-related illness in 1987.

Admittedly I'd heard of Liberace only in passing and knew nothing of him other than that he was a famous performer, and in some ways, that made me wonder would I enjoy Behind the Candelabra as much as I would have with prior knowledge, however, the performances of the cast, the obscene opulence of the main character, and black humour swept me along from the very beginning. I should point out, that personally, I run a mile from musicals or films that spend too much time 'on the stage', thankfully Soderbergh avoided such a scenario and stuck with the storyline, scratching away at the complex layers of the main character who is excellently played by Michael Douglas, in what I would view as his best performance since Traffic in 2000 (during the shooting of which Soderbergh actually first mentioned the role of Liberace to Douglas). 

Matt Damon plays the role of Scott Thorson, who met Liberace when he was only 17 and came under his employ almost immediately, mainly as his limo-driver, along with being his lover for five years. Damon pulls off the role brilliantly, he isn't as you may expect, a shy, vulnerable teenager, in fact he's quite confident and not overawed too much by Liberace's charisma and wealth, this early confidence becomes replaced by paranoia as the years pass however and insecurity eventually takes over, leading to a combustible end to their relationship. Other honourable mentions must go to Rob Lowe, who really surprised me as Liberace's plastic-surgeon, my only complaint would be that their weren't more scenes with him as his facial expressions were classic. For his trouble, Lowe had his face pulled back with tape and removable implants placed in his mouth for the film, his character, Dr. Jack Startz, obviously being a walking advertisement for his own business. Scott Bakula plays Bob Black  who introduces the young Thorson to Liberace, although he isn't in the storyline too much, it's nice to see our old friend from Quantum Leap reprise a good role once again.

There is plenty more to the story which will undoubtedly keep you entertained throughout. Behind the Candelabra was first shown at Cannes Film Festival on 21st of May and then aired on HBO 5 days later. The film was only shown on television in the US because it was deemed 'too gay' by the major studios, although I would argue that it's no more gay than the latest Robin Williams film. Thankfully in Europe, the film has had widespread cinema release and is currently showing in theatres near you. I would strongly recommend this film, you get to see Matt Damon and Michael Douglas like you've never seen them before, the acting is fantastic, and the humour is great too, and did I mention Rob Lowe's face?

I am on anti-depressants and suffer from severe anxiety, should I watch this film on a Sunday night? Yes, it will make you ever so happy.

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