The end of the affair: Behind the Candelabra

From New Statesman:

DougSteven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra focuses on the ten years from 1977, when the pianist Liberace met Scott Thorson, who became his lover as well as chauffeuring him onstage in a cream Rolls-Royce for his Las Vegas performances. How best to explain Liberace? As a child in the 1970s, I was struck by his similarity to the most decadent item in our larder, the Mr Kipling French Fancy. It was even jazzier than the Viscount biscuit (imagine: a biscuit in a wrapper!) but it also made me slightly sick. That’s Liberace: imagine a French Fancy at a grand piano, decked out in jewellery that would make the average hip-hop performer look frugal, and you’re in the right ballroom. I mean, ballpark. No sooner have the posters come down for Side Effects, which Soderbergh announced would mark his farewell to cinema, than this new movie is upon us. To the casual observer, the director may seem like the child who has difficulty starting his sponsored silence (“I’m not talking from . . . now! No – from now”). However, Behind the Candelabra was made for television. Soderbergh had hoped to make it for cinema, only to be told by studio executives that it was too gay. Instead, he shot it for HBO, the pioneering US cable network responsible for almost every great TV series of the past 15 years. For Hollywood to reject something starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas, the project would have to be as gay as a white, fox-fur coat with a 16-foot train, or a hunk in a diamante posing pouch, or a rhinestoneencrusted queen being pleasured in the back room of a Los Angeles porn shop. Behind the Candelabra features all these and more.

…The movie’s richness lies in its performances. Damon negotiates skilfully Scott’s descent from bliss to frazzled insecurity. Rob Lowe has a succulent cameo as a plastic surgeon whose rigid, feline pout reveals that he has been getting high on his own supply. Douglas, meanwhile, conveys sublimely a creosoted smarm that is rarely unsympathetic. He has captured the preening, liquid voice (he pronounces Scott’s name “Scaaaaart”) and he convinces us that Liberace’s declarations of intimacy were no less sincere for being reproduced verbatim onstage in front of thousands or in a hot tub with his latest squeeze.

More here. (Note: Brilliant performance by Michalel Douglas…see the film if you can.)