Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Behind The Candelabra

The days are past when an actor playing a musician could be filmed from the chest up, with cut-away shots of someone else's disembodied hands on the keyboard; now the audience demands a full performance- which Michael Douglas delivers- not only playing the piano but playing it as Liberace did- with panache and very, very fast.

The film follows a predictable arc. An innocent Scott Thorson (by what combination of make-up and computer wizardry did they get Matt Damon to look so young?) enters Liberace's lair just as the star's previous lover exits- handing in his gold signet ring at the door- and we know exactly what the poor child is in for. There are good times, there are bad times, there are lawyers - and the morality tale is capped with a redemptive final twist. The peculiar mix of egomania, bravado, greed and moral cowardice that was Liberace is viewed from a distance- and God only knows what it was like to be on the inside, looking out from through those eyes which- thanks to plastic surgery- would never completely close. Here's a revealing titbit; the house was full of pianos but Lee never played them- and never practised- because making music was something he only ever did on stage. It's essentially a TV movie with a better than average director (Steven Sonderbergh) and some bigger than average actors- not only the leads but Dan Ackroyd, Rob Lowe and Debbie Reynolds.

If you'd asked me who I could imagine playing Liberace and Thorson you'd have hung about all day before I'd have come up with Douglas and Damon- but they're both astonishingly good.
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