By Rebecca McRitchie
Behind the Candelabra details the secret, tumultuous 6-year relationship between virtuoso pianist, Liberace, and his much younger lover, Scott Thorson. Based on Thorson’s 1988 memoir, Behind the Candelabra is directed by Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Traffic) and stars Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Rob Lowe and Dan Aykroyd.
The screenplay, written by Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You), is the perfect mix of humour and poignancy. Douglas is flawless and completely transformed as Liberace, capturing the pianist’s eccentricity and sheer over-the-top manner in a way that is both comedic and affectionate. Damon as the jilted, confused and affected Thorson is similarly impressive.
The details revealed about Liberace’s relationship with Thorson, some of which include radical cosmetic surgery, excessive diet pills and even an attempt at adoption, were just as bewildering, if not more so, than the reality of the general public’s obliviousness to Liberace’s homosexuality during his 40-year career.
Behind the Candelabra may run perhaps a half hour too long and could have done with a finer edit but this does not hinder the movie entirely, particularly if you consider that the feature film was in fact released as a TV movie in America.
Overall I give Behind the Candelabra a 3.5 out of 5. Some may argue that the film is perhaps too over-the-top but Liberace was nothing if not over-the-top and to make a movie about him any less so would be somewhat inaccurate.
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