14 October 2013

Behind The Candelabra DVD Review


Rating:
15
BD/DVD Release Date:
14th October 2013 (UK)
Distributor:
eOne
Director:
Steven Soderbergh
Cast:
Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Dan Akroyd, Scott Bakula, Rob Lowe,Debbie Reynolds
Buy Behind The Candelabra: DVD or Blu-ray

For his last big screen outing, Steven Soderbergh delivers us something totally unexpected. A gloriously camp, hedonistic biopic of one of the world’s most famous performers, Liberace (Michael Douglas). The man who sued the Daily Mirror for libel and won. Columnist William Connor had called him

‘…the summit of sex - the pinnacle of masculine, feminine and neuter. Everything that he, she and it could ever want… a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love’. Well, quite.

Soderbergh charts the homosexuality, excesses and superficial splendour that punctuated Liberace’s life and loves. Based on the memoir of jilted lover Scott Thorson (here played by a spectacularly buff Matt Damon), Behind the Candelabra is actually an insightful tale into the love story between Thorson and Liberace. Thorson goes from being young, starstruck and seduced, to live in lover to yesterday’s news as he is eventually replaced by a younger model. Their journey is both touching and witty as it navigates the pitfalls of love in the shadow of stardom and the hunger for youth and beauty.

Though Damon is excellent as always it is Douglas who steals show, giving an unselfconscious performance that treads the line perfectly between camp, kitsch and charming. Evoking sympathy for his character is no mean feat and Douglas is clearly loving being back in front of the camera. There’s also a deliciously sleazy cameo from Rob Lowe as a lizard featured plastic surgeon who attempts to create Thorson in Liberace’s image.

It really is damning to the film industry that such a well written script with Soderbergh, Damon and Douglas attached could not attract the backing of a major studio and was left to HBO to pick up - denying it eligibility for the Academy Awards. Douglas though, did walk away with a much deserved Emmy.

★★★★

Vikki Myerscough


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