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By Jess Fenton
24th July 2013

In the recent Superman reboot, filmmakers made the wise decision not to ask audiences to believe that a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist couldn’t tell the difference between Clark Kent and the Man of Steel himself. For similar reasons, today’s audiences (well, those under the age of 35 anyway) may struggle with ‘Behind The Candelabra’. Asking people to believe that a man like Liberace fooled the entire world into believing he was a practicing heterosexual is simply laughable.

Based on the memoir of the same name by one-time Liberace (Michael Douglas) companion Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), the film tells the tale of the pair’s meeting, relationship, emotional struggles and eventual bitter and very public separation. The story focuses on their involvement and the impact on each others' lives, as well as those around them - many questions are asked in this process, but sadly none are answered. We see a man request of his partner to undergo drastic plastic surgery to look just like him. We see the man’s partner comply - but nowhere and in no way do we learn what makes a man ask of such a thing, and why the other would agree. And it doesn’t end there; ‘Candelabra’ simply paints too broad a picture, unnuanced and shallow towards a very complicated and precarious love affair. However, a quick Google search will reveal the sordid and titillating details of Thorson’s post-Liberace life, which quite frankly would lead anyone to ask: where’s that movie?


Our two stars and supporting cast are flawless, completely embracing the characteristics as well as the physical and mental demands of playing these very real people. Douglas’ portrayal is uncanny, despite his real-life lack of piano playing skills. Once again, Damon proves himself to be a chameleon.

Depending on what country you’re reading this in, ‘Candelabra’ is the once-prolific Steven Soderbergh’s big screen finale. Deemed “too gay” for cinema-going audiences in the U.S., this project ended up finding a home on HBO, not the cineplex. While sex scenes, nudity and romantic interactions between two men are the nature of the story they’re telling and the reality of the situation, a couple bare arses and a quick love-making scene are about as raw and “controversial” as Soderbergh gets here. He still makes a beautiful film but that unique touch that makes his previous films so rare and special is missing here; if this film becomes synonymous with the Soderbergh name, it will be for all the wrong reasons.

RELEASE DATE: 25/07/2013
RUN TIME: 1h 58m
CAST: Matt Damon - Scott Thorson
Michael Douglas - Liberace
Rob Lowe
Dan Aykroyd - Seymour Heller
Debbie Reynolds - Frances
DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh
WRITER: Richard Lagravenese
PRODUCER: Jerry Weintraub
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