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

Biopic of pianist Liberace, following his relationship with his younger lover Scott Thorson. Introduced into the flamboyant entertainer's hedonistic world at a Las Vegas show in 1977, Thorson began a tempestuous five-year love affair with Liberace, while maintaining the public illusion of simply being an employee. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

Cast and crew

Cast

Liberace
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

Crew

Director
Steven Soderbergh

Other Information

Language: 
English
Colour
Theatrical distributor: 
Entertainment One
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 7 Jun 2013
Certificate 15
Categories
Drama