Film Stars Don’t Die When There’s Films Like This Made.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Director: Paul McGuigan

Written by: Matt Greenhalgh (screenplay), based on the memoir by Peter Turner

Featuring: Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Kenneth Cranham, Julie Waters, Stephen Graham, Jodie McNee

A jobbing actor, Peter Turner, meets up with fading 50s film-star Gloria Graham in a boarding house whilst working, when she on the spur of the moment invites him in to disco dance things take a more romantic turn. Despite the 30-year age game the romance builds even though life conspires against them.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is beautiful romantic drama about a part of real-life actor Peter Turner’s life in the late 70s early 80s. He met and had a romantic relationship with Gloria Graham, one-time Oscar winner and 50s silver screen star. The film centres on this tempestuous relationship that had its ups and downs, but the film makes clear was a true love between the two.

Jamie Bell plays Peter, already a fish-out-of-water actor within his own working-class household and neighbourhood who further pushes against the ‘norms’ when he starts a romance with the much older Gloria. Mr. Bell is on top of his game here, he rarely isn’t to be fair, and breathes believability into a working-class Liverpool lad who happens to love acting and really loves this older woman without actually realising exactly who she was. His relationship with his family, bewigged Stephen Graham and Julie Waters could be said perhaps to be conflicting, dramatastic, actor fodder but in all honesty it’s easy to believe that with Peter being an actor and all the problems and uncertainty that could bring and then being in relationship with a famous, albeit fading, eccentric movie star might bring a few errr conflicts. Still will all know actors love shouting and angry arguments.

The cast is uniformly fantastic with Annette Bening playing the older, insecure, Gloria Graham who ultimately proves to have a deep and caring love for Peter although he never finds out how much, but the audience is let in on it.

There is some great film-making creativity going on here and with trips back into the past a mere step through a door and some old-style backscreens during driving scenes which I think added to the charm of the story. The chemistry between the two leads is there to be seen and none more so than their first meeting a fantastically choregraphed and naturalistic dancing scene – and who doesn’t want to see Billy Elliott giving it some seventies disco?

 There are many stand out moments in the film just two come straight to mind; the visit to the cinema and then the pan up to what film it is (not spoiling that) and Peter, his dad and the dog visiting the pub and a completely natural conversation between them that takes place.

All in all, this film is great piece of cinematic romantic drama that is acted impeccably by its superb cast made even more amazing by the fact it is based on a true story, a true romance if you will.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is a simple love story about a younger man and an older woman – at last, because I’m fed up with wrinkly old men copping off with twenty-something starlets. That the star-crossed lovers are actors and one of them a fading famous one is really incidental. If they had been a plumber and a shop owner, written as it was and acted as it was, it would have been as good.

This a story about love and how any true love no matter how short and sorrow-filled is better than no love. Without doubt this is a film that loves love but there is some love left over for the magic of film and the days when Gloria Graham was a star.

Great acting, great film, great story and you will get ‘something in your eye’.

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