Behind The Candelabra

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  • steven soderbergh
  • michael douglas
  • matt damon
  • magic mike
  • mad dog bradley
  • film review

Steven Soderbergh turned out this biopic after Magic Mike and Side Effects, and yet he was shopping it around for a while and there were no takers due to, you know, the gay thing, which is why it was eventually produced for HBO (but don’t worry, as this is no bland TV movie).

Opening in 1977, we meet Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), a semi-closeted foster kid now in his early 20s (Damon’s older, but never mind) who attends a Liberace concert with pal Bob (Scott Bakula) and is taken backstage to meet the star (played by Michael Douglas, who’s wonderful even though Liberace was shorter, fatter and, ahem, uglier).

‘Lee’ falls for Scott and moves him into his palatial residence, and soon Scott’s involved in Liberace’s finances (and detested by Dan Aykroyd’s agent Seymour Heller) and submitting to surgery performed by scary Dr Startz (scene-stealing Rob Lowe) so that he can look more like the young Liberace (narcissism? Moi?).

With a lovely musical score by Marvin Hamlisch (who died during filming) and Douglas and Damon perfectly comfortable with, you know, the gay thing, this is less surprising in its depiction of Liberace as a rampant queen than its authorised view of him as a complete bastard.

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