Behind the Candelabra (2013) Film Review


It’s the late 70s. Librace (Michael Douglas) is at the height of his fame, playing to sold-out houses in Las Vegas, wearing his trademark outrageously spectacular outfits, masses of jewelry and playing a mirror-covered grand piano. He is introduced to Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), a young, beautiful and naïve young man and they begin a romantic relationship. Over the course of the relationship they are faced with a variety of challenges including fame, plastic surgery and drugs.


The story itself is interesting; an older, highly successful performer seeks love and companionship from a younger man and uses his money and success to obtain this. For me, there were two key things that made this film for me. The first was the legend of Liberace. I’ve always known who Liberace was; a flamboyant pianist who, despite the high camp of his outfits and his act, was not known as a gay man to the general public. The second was the performances. Michael Douglas was fabulous as Liberace; he was such a larger-than-life character, and any portrayal was going to have some element of cariacature. But Douglas brought heart to the character. Matt Damon showed the rise of fall of Thorson, from the innocent farm boy to the arrogant lover of a very wealthy man. And then there is Rob Lowe. Lowe plays Dr Jack Startz, the creepy, overly-face-lifted plastic surgeon. Every moment he is on screen is magnificent. Truly magnificent.

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