Behind The Candelabra

I hope Hollywood is kicking itself for passing on the gloriously twisted ‘Behind The Candelabra’. Apparently it was deemed too gay and it was left to trailblazers and all round good guys HBO to stump up the cash and make it for television, which is a shame for Michael Douglas as it will eliminate him from winning certain awards for his under the skin portrayal of the flamboyant Pianist Liberace. For all the wealth, glitz, glamour and camp contained in the film it is not shy of showing us the darker side and it in these parts that the movie really shines. Matt Damon plays Liberace’s young man servant and lover Scott, moulded (literally) into his own image and thrust from dog handler to a lifestyle beyond his wildest fantasies. What follows is a real character study about relationships, human nature and co-dependency. Its warts and all as we see the couple buckle under pressure, insecurities and the ridiculousness of the excessive yet closeted lifestyle Liberace has surrounded himself with. Eventually Scott is suffocated by his lover and can’t cope with the insular bubble he has been forced to exist in. Here then we are witnesses to the deterioration of the relationship, Scott turns to drugs, Liberace to Younger men, it’s a car crash but one that you can’t help but stare at. Soderbergh knows how to direct and get the best out of his actors, the brief but startling turn by Rob Lowe as Dr. Jack Startz is a scary highlight, but this really is Douglas’s film, he is the larger than life character on and off the stage brilliantly balancing charming and creepy. I’m not sure what real fans of Liberace will make of the movie but as a humorous and at times enlightening delve into the seedier side of fame and love it works, being both honest and entertaining.

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