The director of this film Steven Soderbergh is just treating the gays and straight girls this past year. First it was with the many naked chest and bum shots of Channing Tatum in Magic Mike now we have Behind the Candelabra. We get to see Matt Damon in all sorts of revealing clothes and lots of naked ass. I am sure some of you don’t need to read any further, I have persuaded you enough to watch this film.
I am probably showing my age or just my plain ignorance but I never heard of Liberace. When I first watched the film I got the story confused with Gianni Versace. This consisted of 2 hours of me waiting for Matt Damon to flip out and murder Liberace. This however did not happen. It was an interesting story nonetheless.
The film follows the two real life characters of Liberace and Scott Thorson. Thorson meets the piano player Liberace when he is just 17 but looks about 30 sorry Matt. Liberace is bemused by Thorson and takes him under his wing. Liberace introduces him to designer clothes, expensive cars, lavish jewellery and houses fit for kings. What does Thorson do in return? He provides a listening ear to Liberace’s constant fears of feeling like he can’t trust anyone and the occasional sex session.
The story takes a twisted turn when Liberace wants Thorson to get plastic surgery to make them both look alike. To add to this request, Liberace wants to adopt Thorson as his son. Thorson agrees to the surgeries after feeling pressure and stress of being rejected by Liberace if he declines . The prosthetics in this film are amazing. I initially thought that Damon’s work looked awful but seeing actual photographs of Thorson you can see the resemblance.
Cheekbones that could cut butter..
The film progresses to the stage where you realize how selfish and manipulative Liberace has been from the start. Thorson is portrayed as a man who is introduced and addicted to the lifestyle of plastic surgery, drugs and fame. Thorson presently is dealing with charges of burglary and is still suffering from a drug addiction. It is sad to see that he failed to overcome any obstacles. The influence of Liberace is still clearly prevalent in his life and it shows. In the film I thought there was hope for him after Liberace’s death but clearly there hasn’t been any change.
Both Damon’s and Douglas’ performances were superb. Not only did they tap into playing such flawed characters like Thorson and Liberace but they also had to portray characters that were well known to the public. It is easier to be critical of an actor’s performance if they are imitating a well known person. Saying that, both actors in my opinion (from watching youtube clips of Liberace and Thorson) have obviously worked hard by studying old footage because they have perfected their mannerisms and speech.The film’s costumes are also something to be applauded. Every outfit that Douglas wears in the film is just walking art as Liberace’s costumes once were.
If the real life story of Liberace is not of interest to you, the film is even worth a look just to get a bit of an insight into the aids crisis in the 70s. It is especially interesting to see its effect on closeted men in the entertainment industry.