Freeview film of the day: Behind the Candelabra

Michael Douglas stars as the original King of Bling in this bittersweet biopic of piano-playing showman Liberace


Behind the Candelabra ★★★★ 
11.05pm-1.00am BBC2


Although it was shown at the Cannes film festival and had a cinema release in Britain, Steven Soderbergh’s film was made for American TV and thus not eligible for Oscar nominations. That’s a shame because Michael Douglas (as Liberace) and Matt Damon (as Scott Thorson, Liberace’s younger lover) would certainly have been in the frame for acting awards. Based on Thorson’s memoir it tells of the love affair between the two men that began in 1977, when Thorson was 18, and lasted into the 1980s. Throughout, the dominant partner is Liberace, who comes across as a slightly paranoid figure who believes himself to be exploited by everyone but who can be both generous and mean- spirited. As the relationship develops, not always smoothly, the pianist tries to turn his lover into a version of his own younger self. The film is fascinating, as glossy and flamboyant as Liberace and very well played, especially by Douglas, who is always just camp enough.


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