BEHIND THE CANDELABRA 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Richard LaGravenese [based on the books by Scott Thorson and Alex Thorleifson]
Featuring: Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Scot Bakula, Dan Akroyd,
Scott Thorson, raised in foster homes, is introduced to the ‘piano player’ Liberace and is swept up into a romantic relationship with the legendary entertainer. Despite being extravagantly effeminate Liberace remains deep in the closet and becomes controlling and suffocating to Scott. He remodels the young man exactly as he wants with flamboyant clothing and jewellery and even plastic surgery. As both men start to tire of the relationship Liberace eventually moves Scott out of his house and life as he has done to so many lovers before. Scott, addled by drugs and bitterness, seeks compensation for the years he spent with Liberace and in the end there is one final twist in the tale that proves the bond between the men was never truly broken…
This film is very gay with capital letters. How so many people could think Liberace was not gay is beyond me but hey-ho you only see what you want to see. The main characters are well played by Matt Damon and Michael Douglas. Douglas has got most of the plaudits but I found Damon’s transformation from young bi-sexual man to Liberace’s played with and tossed aside toy the more impressive. It somewhat takes away from the story to find out that the young Thorsen in real life was 17-years old and Matt Damon is 42. Perhaps it would have looked to ‘yucky’ if they had showed a 17-year old and 60-year getting it on. Mind you showing Harrison Ford, for example, who is older, jumping into bed with girls in their mid-20s makes me feel as queasy and most film-makers and goers have no problems with this.
The film itself is way too long and runs out of steam halfway through only to pick up a bit near the end. If you don’t like man-on-man action then don’t watch this film and don’t watch Torchwood either. It’s not something that bothers me and the homosexual sex scenes made complete sense to the storyline.
I very quickly surmised that Liberace was an insecure vain man who eventually tired of his playthings and literally treated some people in his life in such a way. This really was very clearly laid-out within the first half an hour so the rest of the film followed a lot of melodramatic stomping around and scenes for actors to get their teeth into, some love scenes and some scenes set up for comedic effect.
In particular, Rob Lowe’s stretched and scary looking Dr. Jack Startz is hilarious looking and rather sinister throughout. Some of Liberace’s ideas seem a bit, well, odd, from the beginning but I guess the draw of fame and money will turn a certain type of persons head not matter what is going on around them.
Amazingly I didn’t even realise good-old Dan Akroyd was Liberace’s manager until I saw the credits! Great to see Captain Archer, Scott Bakula still strutting his stuff as moustached, long haired, procurer of young men – or perhaps it was another leap on the way home? It is to these actors credits, alongside an unrecognisable Debbie Reynolds as Liberace’s mother, that they do not distract from the story.
The film and story were good enough to keep me watching and laughing at the preposterousness of the excess on display, [a lot of which belonged to Liberace], and wonder what type of human-beings these people really were? No one is shown as all bad or all good and no one comes out of the story spotless, which is good story-telling particularly as it is about a recent very famous and popular person.
Overall I would say the film is too long as it strives to show the depth of the relationship and thus collapses in on itself. There’s nothing new on display if just exchange on of the characters for a woman.
Don’t watch this film if you are homophobic. Don’t watch this film if you don’t like scenes of plastic surgery being performed [I don’t].