Real life proves to be just as dramatic off-screen as it does on it for aging Hollywood superstar Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) and her much younger lover, Peter Turner (Jamie Bell). As their mismatched romance waxes and wanes over time, events conspire to keep them in each other's lives even when it proves to be difficult and demanding. Ultimately, they find that they must each come to terms with whatever fate they face in the future whether they are together or apart.Written by
With such a great cast (Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Kenneth Cranham, Stephen Graham, Vanessa Redgrave and Frances Barber) and a fascinating subject matter detailing a passionate true-life romance concerning film noir icon Gloria Grahame and jobbing actor Peter Turner, 'Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool' intrigued me.
On the most part, while not perfect, 'Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool' did not disappoint and did its subject justice. There wasn't much to criticise for me actually, though the quality of the production values left me torn. On one hand, there's lovely costumes and very handsome photography. On the other, some of the sets are garish and lack authenticity and some of the wigs are a fright. Especially Stephen Graham's that looked like it came from an old comedy sketch on loan.
'Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool' however is anchored by Bening at her most fearless and vulnerable and her passionate chemistry with Bell giving the most mature work of his career.
Walters, Cranham and Graham are as expected first class support, particularly Walters. Redgrave and Barber have a terrific scene. Paul McGuigan directs with class.
The elegiac music score adds enormously. The nostalgic atmosphere is evoked beautifully, and the story, while slight, was easy to get behind thanks to the performances, the romance having the passion it does and the emotional resonance of when Grahame's career and health ails. Can't fault the script either, which is full of wit and poignancy.
In short, very intriguing and well done. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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