Behind The Candelabra
- Director:Steven Soderbergh
- Cast:Dan Aykroyd, Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Rob Lowe
- Release Date:July 25, 2013
- Running time:119 minutes
- Film Worth:$18.50
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A masterfully crafted and superbly performed biopic that’s wry, spirited and emotionally compelling.
If Steven Soderbergh’s Behind The Candelabra does indeed prove to be the director’s swansong, it’s an absolutely stellar way to cap a remarkable career, and it’s also representative of all the traits that make this filmmaker so good. The film is shot in Soderbergh’s masterfully restrained style, and is underpinned by wry humour, but it’s first and foremost an emotionally engaging piece of work.
The story chronicles the relationship between the flamboyant virtuoso pianist, Liberace (Michael Douglas), and his much younger lover, Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), who first strolled into the star’s Las Vegas dressing room one night in 1977. Despite their differences in age and background, the two embarked on a tumultuous five-year love affair.
Based on a memoir by the actual Thorson, the relationship between the two – Douglas and Damon are truly superb – is a fascinating and bewildering thing to witness. Liberace tells Scott that he wants to be everything to him (“Brother, father, lover, best friend”), and we watch as the older star attempts to live up to each of those titles. While he initially keeps his distance, Scott – a young man who grew up in foster homes – ends up falling hard for Liberace. But we know where this is heading – Liberace will eventually tire of Scott, and toss him aside. When that moment comes, however, it’s absolutely wrenching. A wild and unsettling love story, Soderbergh ensures that it’s also deftly balanced (Liberace is also seen to be a victim of his time and fame, having to hide his sexuality) and deeply relatable. It’s ultimately a story about the power imbalances in relationships, and the quietly devastating way that couples can build one another up, only to tear each other down.