Scott Thorson, a young bisexual man raised in foster homes, is introduced to flamboyant entertainment giant Liberace and quickly finds himself in a romantic relationship with the legendary pianist. Swaddled in wealth and excess, Scott and Liberace have a long affair, one that eventually Scott begins to find suffocating. Kept away from the outside world by the flashily effeminate yet deeply closeted Liberace, and submitting to extreme makeovers and even plastic surgery at the behest of his lover, Scott eventually rebels. When Liberace finds himself a new lover, Scott is tossed on the street. He then seeks legal redress for what he feels he has lost. But throughout, the bond between the young man and the star never completely tears. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In May 2013, the New York Times reported that Scott Thorson received a little less than $100,000 for his participation with this movie, and that he spent all of that money "in about two months, mostly on cars and jewelry." See more »
In the movie both Liberace and his mother claim that his first name was "Walter". In fact Liberace was born "Wladziu Valentino", but used only his last name as his stage name for most of his career. See more »
Finally a film that suits Soderbergh's voyeuristic and clinical style.
It's starting to look like 2013 is Soderbergh's year. Side Effects and Behind The Candelabra seem to be my favourite of his career so far, though that's only relatively, as I'm not a big fan of him. I do have Out Of Sight on my to see list coming up soon and I do need to give Traffic another watch before I make any final assessment on him. Although Soderbergh is frequently the director, cinematography and editor on his projects, he may be efficient but he's far too clinical, pushing the audience as an observer that it's difficult to feel emotionally involved in his films. I can't get excited for his half-baked premises that most likely haven't been fulfilled to their potential. However, Behind The Candelabra may be the first film I've seen of his that suits his style ideally. His style is still distant and voyeuristic, but in this bizarre world where Liberace adopts his lover for a son and pays for plastic surgery to make him look like himself, it feels more deliberate to keep us at a distance.
Instead, the scenes of dramatic conflict, decision and choice are played off for jokes and it's really effective, always earning belly laughs with its brilliant one-liners without feeling like it's silly. Perhaps its nervous laughter but it makes for an entertaining and interesting film. Michael Douglas is terrific as Liberace. I've never seen him take a character on like this. He's nearly up there with Sean Penn's Milk. It feels like it's been a while since Matt Damon has been in films I've wanted to watch and with this and Elysium, I've forgotten how reliable a lead he is. The characters inhabit a flashy world, but its kept on the costumes and sets which are incidental more than anything and the style of the film is kept subtle, besides a great choice of swooping cameras. It does have its flaws with nearly soap opera-esque structure and conflict but my expectations were very low so this is a pleasant surprise. I think I even prefer it to Side Effects.
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