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      Behind The Candelabra

      Behind The Candelabra

      The success of a biopic could be measured in the time it takes for you to turn to Google and Wikipedia on a fact finding mission after the credits roll. Your interest has been piqued so much you must hunt for any differences between truth and exaggeration, if any. Sometimes though, on a rare occasion, a film about someone’s life won’t immediately take you to a search engine if the story, like in Behind The Candelabra, has been told efficiently.


      It is a testament to the source material of the real life Scott Thorson’s autobiographical novel that tells this tale of Liberace’s secret life behind closet doors and his relationship with Thorson, which is told in such an intimate and delicate manner under Soderbergh’s unique cinematic flair. It is unapologetic, candid and has an air of self-awareness. It knows exactly what it is about and knows how to pull it off. The troubles of fame, secrets of which Liberace was always keen to cover up including his relationship with much younger lover. It is all told with a delicate mastery reflecting the true talent of the pianist himself.


      Michael Douglas as Liberace defines the tag-line ‘as you’ve never seen him before’ and is complimented not only by an amusingly disturbing Rob Lowe as the heavily ‘reconstructed’ plastic surgeon but also, of course, his on screen partner Matt Damon. While Damon is considerably older than the real life Thorson he finds the precise amount of naivety, raw emotion and conflict from within to deliver a stand out performance that can justifiably challenge Douglas’ own achievement in this film.


      While this is technically a TV movie over in the US, the cinematic release over here on UK shores needs to be fully appreciated. Liberace is a character ideal for the big screen with production values to match; including replicas of his iconic stage costumes and snippets of the real Liberace performing on a small TV screen. However it is the emotions that should loom biggest. A portrayal of wealth and fame is not instantly identifiable to many but love, anxiety, pain and loss is and is shown with such great care.


      Whether you’re interested in Liberace’s life or not this is a true drama. It is moving compelling and full of flamboyant personality. At the same time it is a character examination that follows the life of an iconic popular culture figure. “Too much of a good thing is wonderful” says Liberace but Soderbergh satisfies us by delivering just the right amount of everything.



      PETER HARRIS ||

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