Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: Behind the Candelabra (Steven Soderbergh, 2013)

Produced by HBO, the network on which it aired in May shortly after its grand premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Behind the Candelabra is a biopic chronicling the final ten years in the life of flamboyant world-renowned entertainer, Liberace, and his secretive love affair with the much younger Scott Thorson. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike, Side Effects) and written by Richard LaGravenese, the story is adapted from Thorson’s memoir from 1988, Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace, and features outstanding performances from Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

It is in 1977 that 17-year-old Scott Thorson (Damon), then working as an animal trainer for movies, is introduced to Valentino Liberace (Douglas), the extravagant glittery jacket-attired pianist and entertainer, who takes an immediate liking to the young man. Liberace invites Thorson, and his Hollywood producer friend Bob Black (Scott Bakula), backstage following one of his Vegas shows and then to his luxurious home. After offering to treat Liberace’s dog for temporary blindness, Thorson agrees to move inat his request, becoming his assistant-come-lover. Over time a rift begins to develop, brought on by Thorson’s difficulty in adapting to the lifestyle, including drug abuse and excessive plastic surgery, and Liberace’s selfish promiscuity, which causes the two to grow bitter and part.

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