Behind the Candlelabra tells the story of Liberace.
Who’s Liberace some may ask? As the promotion says, before Elvis, before Elton, Before Madonna, Before Gaga – there was Liberace! He was a man as reknowned for his piano talents as much as he was for his extravagance and showmanship. He seemed out there and willing to share his life with the public but that wasn’t always the case.
Liberace’s public persona was that he was a straight man with great love for his mother. Behind the scenes though, yes he did love his mum, but he also loved men. His most intensive relationship was with Scott Thorson.
Behind the Candlelabra picks up from the time Liberace met Scott and takes us through to his death. It is at times a sad and lonely story but also camp and full of laughs.
Any other director could have been tempted to make this the campest, over the top film to hit the screen, but he didn’t. He kept himself, and his cast, in check. There was enough extravagance to capture the essence of who Liberace was. However, Steven Soderberg dared to literally look behind the candlelabra and let the audience get to know the real man.
Michael Douglas is amazing as Liberace. He is Liberace! Watch any clips of the two of them and it is hard to tell the men apart.
Matt Damon is fantastic as Liberace’s younger and sometimes unstable lover. But the man who steals the show is Rob Lowe. Lowe only appears in a few scenes but steals them! His portrayal of plastic surgeon, Dr Jack Startz, is hilarious and scary at the same time.
In the US Behind the Candlelabra was broadcast on HBO as, director Steven Soderberg has publically said, that it was too gay for Hollywood studios. It is unfortunate that Hollywood studios sometimes do not allow themselves to think outside the box, or trust that this is what audiences want to see. Case in point was the fact that this film brought in the highest ratings HBO has had for an original film in ten years (2.4 million).
Irish audiences don’t need to fear missing this though as it is in cinemas now!
Behind the Candlelabra is everything that Liberace was – spectacular, fabulous, extravagant and highly entertaining!