What happens when college is over and you are in the real world, facing debt and joblessness, growing up, having to take responsibility for your life? In the current era, this is a question dealt with in Girls and the answer is: inappropriate sex and relationships, poor life choices and drugs and alcohol. What about the mid-eighties? Actually, it’s pretty much the same. But with bigger hair, and the ability to be a star playing saxophone in a college bar (and jeepers, playing the saxophone makes you sexy to all the chicks and really, really sweaty).
It was a classic tale with many members of the “brat pack” of the eighties: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy. Friends from college being forced to face their demons. And there is not a single character that I did not want to slap. For me, this doesn’t hold up at all… but I think that if I had loved it in the way I loved Young Guns and The Lost Boys, I would probably be ranting and raving about it here. I can see what people would love, I just can’t love it myself.
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.