Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register now to see X-Men: First Class!
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
TODAY
Lupita Nyong'o & Scarlett Johansson In Talks For The Jungle Book
Jon Favreau rounds up friends old and new
New Trailer For Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
Power is a fragile thing...
More Movie News

RELATED NEWS
TODAY
New Trailer For Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
Power is a fragile thing...
More Movie News

RELATED FUTURE FILMS
Ant-Man
17 July 2015
Interstellar
07 November 2014
More Future Films

RELATED REVIEWS
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Empire Star Rating
The Zero Theorem (2014)
Empire Star Rating
The Monuments Men (2014)
Empire Star Rating
Last Vegas (2014)
Empire Star Rating
Elysium (2013)
Empire Star Rating
More new cinemas releases
DVD & Blu-ray releases

Cannes 2013: Behind The Candelabra Initial Reaction
Cannes 2013: Behind The Candelabra Initial Reaction
Steven Soderbergh's Liberace biopic chars the Croisette

22 May 2013  |  Written by Damon Wise  

submit to reddit

Behind The Candelabra doesn't seem very likely to take the Palme d'Or, but Steven Soderbergh's alleged swansong proved very popular with audiences in Cannes, being a witty and affectionate, if not entirely factually accurate, biopic of flamboyant cabaret artist Liberace. Michael Douglas steals the show as the preening, neurotic but really rather likeable pianist, although Matt Damon proves a formidable supporting act, giving much-needed warmth to a slightly tragic and misguided figure.

The film opens in 1977, with Scott Thorson (Damon) working as an animal trainer in Hollywood movies. A chance meeting in a gay bar with Scott Bakula's Bob Black leads to an encounter with Liberace (Douglas) in Vegas, and an extended scene sets out the entertainer's camp charisma and genuine charm, engaging a largely blue-rinse, conservative crowd with a call-and-response boogie-woogie routine. Backstage, Liberace invites the pair to his home, forming an attachment to Thorson that develops into a full-blown relationship as the latter progresses from personal assistant to lover.

Neither director nor cast shirk their responsibilities, and the story is about as gay as it could possibly be, with lots of physical romping and open-mouth kissing. Douglas relishes the role, and is never upstaged by the ever more outrageous outfits that so defined Liberace's public image.

Some have described the film's ultimate descent into bitchery – when the relationship finally deteriorates beyond repair – as homophobic, but the other side of the coin is that Richard LaGravenese's very funny script does invest his characters with feelings and emotions that aren't always expected (for example, the young Thorson is prudish and monogamous, while Liberace is lewd and quite delightfully licentious).

Its roots as a TV movie are pretty clear, but Behind The Candelabra doesn't look at all out of place on the big screen. The happy(ish) ending doesn't quite tally with reality, but the film nicely reflects the dynamic of the relationship – a lonely millionaire finds a lost boy to father, using plastic surgery to make their bond creepily real – and brings out the all-too-human story behind the tabloid gossip.

Behind The Candelabra is out in the UK on June 7.

 


Have Your Say
To comment on this, and all articles, register for free or login now.

Cannes 2013 In Photos: Blood Ties Premiere
Plus Matt Damon, Michael Douglas and Keanu Reeves
Disney Re-Scales Pete's Dragon
UPDATE: David Lowery in talks to direct his script


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Best Barry Norman Anecdotes From His Empire Podcast Interview
From nearly punching Robert De Niro to the real story about ‘And why not?’

Empire 300th Issue: The Directors' Cut Cover
Spielberg, Whedon, Fincher, Abrams Mann and more take over

Fired! Losing Your Job In The Movies
The lowdown on getting dismissed on film

20 Not So Super '-Men' That Won't Star In A Film Any Time Soon
Forget your Batmen, your Spider-Men and your Ant-Men… Meet 3-D Man (and his pals)

The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Ten Things To Know About The Spooks Movie
Under the hood of The Greater Good

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)