Behind the Candelabra


Directed by the legend Steven Soderbergh, Behind The Candelabra, the HBO, made-for-TV movie that got a cinema release here in the UK, is a balls-out, sequinned, camp and delightfully funny biopic about the infamous entertainer, Liberace, and his lover, Scott Thorson, which is set over the course of their relationship up until Liberace’s death in 1986.

It’s no real surprise that Behind the Candelabra has garnered huge critical praise. This is a character piece that relies heavily on some first rate performances from the cast, and boy does it not disappoint. Michael Douglas pitches Liberace perfectly; he manages to gel his flamboyant and extroverted nature with moments of tender emotion and sweet vulnerability. This is in no small part down to the brilliance of Matt Damon, who acts superbly opposite Douglas, and brings both light and moments of shade to the film and their on-screen partnership. Damon is a chameleon who can seamlessly morph into any character; The Talented Mr Ripley, The Informant and The Departed, to name just a few stand-outs, and Behind the Candelabra is no different. He physically and emotionally portrays the passing of time with a class and skill that is difficult to do, embodying the prosthesis and acting above the make up, meaning it never wears him; Leonardo DiCaprio in J.Edgar is an example of just how difficult this can be to accomplish successfully.

Stylistically,Β Behind the Candelabra is beautiful to behold. Soderbergh, who often does his own cinematography under the alias Peter Andrews, Β has created a gaudy and gorgeous world that these two characters inhabit. We are catapulted into 1970s Vegas in a haze of glitz and gold. The direction embraces the mood on screen and, from the beginning, Soderbergh utilises the visual eye candy with close up shots of diamonds and fur to draw the audience into, not just the look of opulence, but the feel of it too. This empathetic approach to the mood and style runs all the way through the film; as Scott loses his shine, so does the aesthetic of the film.

Overall,Β Behind the Candelabra is a fantastic watch. There are some great supporting performances- especially from Rob Lowe – and the story was engaging and punchy. Despite the limitations with the source material – a book written by Thorson himself – it manages to avoid bias. If anything Liberace is the one who gets off rather lightly. This is more a film about Thorson’s need for love, family, ownership and his battle with his own demons. This worked though. Ultimately, Liberace kept everyone at arms length, so from his point of view the film could have felt unfinished and shallow. As it was this film was a delight to watch and is worth seeing for the performances and chemistry between Douglas and Damon alone.


Categories: General Reviews

Tags: , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. This movie is incredible! The chemistry between Gordon Gecko and Jason Bourne just fizzes. I had a gay friend who said that they get offended when straight people joke that they wish they were gay as it would make their life so much easier. This movie is a solid statement to this point.

  2. Very nice – not my type of movie so I’ll probably skip : )

    • Normally me and Lauren don’t have time to watch the same movies unless we go to the cinema together, however this movie really interests me as well! Soderbergh is a fantastic director to be fair.

  3. Really want to see this film at some point, glad to hear you think its worth watching.


  1. Frame Rates Movies of Our Year 2013 « Frame Rates

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Craft Fear

Handmade horror with a side of suds.

The Obsessive Viewer

Blog & Podcasts featuring movie/TV reviews and editorials about the entertainment industry.

The Popcorn Bandit

Salted popcorn, shaken not stirred | Just an average guy reviewing films for the average Joe.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Motion Pictures

Lindsey D.'s ramblings on the moving image!

Modest Movie

Opinions from the back of the theater

Critical Dave

Where I pontificate on things (mainly movies) and you read if you want to. Spoilers are everywhere, so read at your own peril.

1001 Movies...Before I Die!

Read what I write about what I see!

%d bloggers like this: