Behind the Candelabra

  • 15
  • Steven Soderbergh (2013)
  • US
  • 113 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
4 out of 5

If, as he has often claimed, Steven Soderbergh really is retiring from movie-making, this bittersweet, often hilarious portrait of flamboyant Vegas entertainer Wladziu Valentino "Lee" Liberace will stand as a rhinestone-encrusted My Way of a swan song. It sketches out the last seven years in the life of the pianist (played by Michael Douglas), as seen through the eyes of his assistant and lover Scott (Matt Damon), and shows Liberace as a kind but desperately lonely man whose insatiable need for human contact came to be his downfall. Dripping with gold, silver, diamante and mink, Soderbergh's often dark yet somehow good-hearted biopic could so easily have fallen into camp caricature, but Douglas's powerhouse central performance exquisitely captures the real Liberace's peculiarly self-aware charm. Rather than being a study in sleaze and excess, it prefers to tell a misguided father/son story, and although the sexual content would be considered strong even without the A-list names involved, what lasts longest in the mind is not the film's bold gay love scenes but its affectionate tip of the hat to a great, unapologetic American eccentric.

Plot Summary

Biographical drama starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. Flamboyant pianist Liberace was already one of the most famous entertainers in the world when he was introduced to young Scott Thorson in 1977. Scott is at first seduced and then overpowered by the larger-than-life character and his opulent lifestyle. But their six-year relationship is volatile and is kept secret from Liberace's adoring fans.

Cast and crew


Michael Douglas (1)
Scott Thorson
Matt Damon
Seymour Heller
Dan Aykroyd
Bob Black
Scott Bakula
Dr Jack Startz
Rob Lowe
Ray Arnett
Tom Papa
Mr Felder
Paul Reiser
Frances Liberace
Debbie Reynolds
Billy Leatherwood
Cheyenne Jackson
Mr Y
Nicky Katt


Steven Soderbergh

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Entertainment One
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 7 Jun 2013
Certificate 15