Famously turned down by every studio that director Steven Soderbergh took it to, this lively and gaudy Liberace biopic had to settle for life as a TV movie with cable heavyweight HBO.
Behind The Candelabra
The film really doesn't suffer, though; the only downside being a shortage of OTT opulence. Indeed, the fact that they had to turn to TV even works to the movie's advantage: it's a lot more lively, fun and daring than the usual Oscar-bait biopics – compare it to the bland and corny Diana, for example.
Still, your attention isn't on the sets, thanks to a mesmeric, career-best, Emmy-winning performance from Michael Douglas. Matt Damon is also no slouch as Scott Thorson, Liberace's lover of four rather incredible years, while Rob Lowe steals every scene he's in as a plastic surgeon with a hilarious fixed expression, half grimace, half smile. It's essentially a love story – an unusual one, to say the least – but one with plenty of recognisable passion and problems. The rot sets into the relationship when cosmetic surgery enters the picture and (via some disturbing, subtle makeup) Damon becomes more of a plaything than partner. For the full experience, Tony Palmer's recently reissued, early 70s documentary The World Of Liberace makes a great companion piece, examining the pianist's "palatial kitsch" style in detail – enough horrifically expensive tat to make a Roman emperor blush.
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