BEHIND THE CANDELABRA: A REVIEW

Before Elvis, before Elton John, Madonna and Lady Gaga, there was Liberace: virtuoso pianist, outrageous entertainer and flamboyant star of stage and television. A name synonymous with showmanship, extravagance and candelabras, he was a world-renowned performer with a flair that endeared him to his audiences and created a loyal fan base spanning his 40-year career. Liberace lived lavishly and embraced a lifestyle of excess both on and off stage. In summer 1977, handsome young stranger Scott Thorson walked into his dressing room and, despite their age difference and seemingly different worlds, the two embarked on a secretive five-year love affair. BEHIND THE CANDELABRA takes a behind-the-scenes look at their tempestuous relationship – from their first meeting backstage at the Las Vegas Hilton to their bitter and public break-up.

 

BEHIND THE CADELABRA: A Review on Salty Popcorn
BEHIND THE CADELABRA: A Review on Salty Popcorn

 

Firstly, this biopic is a Soderbergh film, that is really all you need to know that it will be good and in-depth regardless of the rest. With films such as Traffic, Erin Brokovich, The Oceans trilogy, Che – Parts 1 and 2, Contagion, Magic Mike and Side Effects under his belt you know he makes a good film, when I hear of a new Soderbergh film I ask the question, when and how much is the ticket? Then he makes a film about one of the most visually charismatic characters in the history of the entertainment scene, the Lady Gaga of his day, a guy so he makes look straight but at the time he was so in the closet so as to not ruin his image – when you look on it now it is so laughable that they could even claim he was straight – if he was around now – he would be applauded and worshipped by the world and a advocate that would turn up to events with an entourage filled with hotties, I would envy the crap out of him now. But, also, he was a victim of excess, and after watching this film, an egomaniacal asshole who only cared for himself and his desires.

 

BEHIND THE CADELABRA: A Review on Salty Popcorn
BEHIND THE CADELABRA: A Review on Salty Popcorn

 

The film is beautifully told, superbly recreated, amazingly acted, brilliantly directed and masterfully accurate. It captures the tragedy of excess, the commencement of the AIDS epidemic with delicacy and heart and all round the film is near perfection. Problem for me was, we have seen nearly all of it before, this film is Traffic, it is the Doors, it is Evita, Sid and Nancy, Ned Kelly, Walk the Line and a hundred other biopics – it is about the rise and fall of a single empirical individual. But, it is like reading a biography, we normally know the start, the middle and end before we read, but we don’t know the details, the gossip and the individual through and through. We are drawn to the tragedy, seeing the highlife their journey takes and then watching it all come crashing down around them. So why do we love these stories? Because while they all take the same path they all are about the individual, these people are drawn to these lives, it would never have been any other way, it would be boring if it wasn’t this way. And what makes this film stand out and rise above the rest………………the acting. If it was not for the performances this film would have sunk badly.

 

BEHIND THE CADELABRA: A Review on Salty Popcorn
BEHIND THE CADELABRA: A Review on Salty Popcorn

 

delivers what I consider the best performance of his life, it is the first time in a long time we have not seen be , it is the first time, again in a long time, he has stepped from the comfort zone and allowed the range and skill he has as an actor to take over the vessel and channel Liberace. From the opening scene where the mannerisms and vocal inflections literally are Liberace just owns this role. also steps out of his action role persona and becomes the sex good sexual weakness of the moment for Liberace that literally lasted five years and saw him have facial surgery to make him look more like Liberace, it saw him dressed and looking exactly like Liberace and it will give you, the viewing audience a glimpse at parts of you have never seen before :). Both performances are superb but Douglas deserves an Oscar for his.

There is also another performance that nearly stole the show from the two leads, it is small but every time you see onscreen you will cry with laughter, his make up is out of this world brilliant and while there to be a comic relief for the film the character is also another highlight of the excesses of the time.

There are also good performances by Scott Bakula and Dan Aykroyd but they are so minor they are nearly inconsequential – Aykroyd plays Liberace’s spin doctor and manager who covers up everything for the sake of the star.

There was only one thing that annoyed me with the film and that was that I thought it was about 15mins too long, I started to find it dragged a bit towards the end but then fired up – but then again this is probably the “coming down” effect, it is experienced by drug users when the high wears off and I gather it also happened to me when the fun times and awesome Liberace turned into the mean and sexual slut Liberace and saw Scott’s life take a turn for very worse.

 

BEHIND THE CADELABRA: A Review on Salty Popcorn
BEHIND THE CADELABRA: A Review on Salty Popcorn

 

Soderbergh’s film is a biopic with style, not only style at the superbness of the story and the skill with which he actually got these actors to perform these incredibly gay roles but superb in the opulent set design, camera work, tone and era. Originally this film was set to be directed by Phillip Kaufman and Robin Williams was going to play Liberace. It should also be known that while Matt Damon is 42 in the film, when Liberace originally met Scott Thorson Scott was only a teenager and they split up when Scott was 23. Thorson was paid a mere $100000 for his role in this film being made and apparently he spent it all in two months on cars and jewellery. And one final sad thing about this film, it never got a cinematic release in the U.S. because it was too gay – yep – outrageous – it got aired on HBO instead. Funny considering the supposed acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle the world is supposed to be embracing at the time and that this film came out years after Brokeback Mountain, another gay film that was screened everywhere.

 

BEHIND THE CADELABRA: A Review on Salty Popcorn
BEHIND THE CADELABRA: A Review on Salty Popcorn

 

It did however receive a cinematic release in the UK and Europe and will be having a commercial and art house cinematic release into cinemas in Australia from this Thursday 25th July. It runs for 119mins and is rated MA15+ for very obvious reasons. It is worth seeing for Matt Damon’s butt alone but the brilliance of Douglas will amaze you.

 

4 Pops