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>
The Liberace Foundation in Las Vegas owns many of the original portraits from the pianist's famous home. However, the paintings which appear in the film are all recreations, with the original facial features altered to resemble Michael Douglas. See more »
Liberace played the piano while tapping his right foot. The piano is normally played while engaging the pedals to enrich the music produced, so ignoring the pedals is something a pianist would not do. See more »
[on the phone]
You scumbag piece of shit! Fairy! You fucking queen cocksucker! How dare you? How fucking dare you, Lee? I could kill you! I could fucking kill you!
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By sheer coincidence, just two nights prior to the debut of 'Behind the Candelabra', I had the pleasure of viewing one of my favorite films, 1965's 'The Loved One', in which Liberace played 'Mr.Starker', a casket salesman. So it was with Liberace's voice, image and mannerisms fresh in my mind that I encountered Michael Douglas' portrayal of the man and boy, did he nail it.
The story itself is pretty much by the numbers with the kind of shorthand one expects from a TV movie bio; it's the performances that bring this to a certain level of greatness. Douglas all but disappears into the role, right from the start. It's truly an amazing thing to watch, and considering the subject, a brave and unapologetic performance. Matt Damon is equally impressive and while I have no idea if he does the real Scott Thorson justice, his transformation from an eager and innocent young man to a jaded, coked-up and surgically altered paranoid boy-toy is stark and convincing. Add to these chameleon-like performances an unrecognizable Debbie Reynolds and a truly unnerving Rob Lowe and you have two hours of truly compelling, master-class performances.
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