Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Download Ex Machina
Before the DVD release on 8th June
Subscribe To Empire
Sign up now and save 44%
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
TODAY
First Teaser For Pixar's The Good Dinosaur
A brief glimpse of jurassic larks
Jason Isaacs Cast In A Cure For Wellness
Gore Verbinski has found the film's villain
New Paper Towns Trailer Online
You have to get lost before you find yourself
Clint Eastwood Finds A New Biopic To Direct
He may tackle hero pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger
A Royal Affair's Nikolaj Arcel Chosen To Direct The Dark Tower
He's starting talks for the Stephen King adaptation
James Gunn Teases New Guardians Of The Galaxy Title
Sequel may not be just Guardians 2
Prison Break May Return For Limited Series
Miller & Purcell in chokey again
More Movie News

RELATED NEWS
29 May 2015
New Ant-Man Poster Dodges Bullets Online
Heroes don't get any bigger
More Movie News

RELATED FUTURE FILMS
The Martian
27 November 2015
Bill
21 August 2015
Ant-Man
17 July 2015
More Future Films

RELATED REVIEWS
Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story Of Dream Alliance (2015)
Empire Star Rating
Last Knights (2015)
Empire Star Rating
Rigor Mortis (2015)
Empire Star Rating
Interstellar (2014)
Empire Star Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
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
Enter The B-Team: Who's Left For Marvel And DC To Adapt?
12 supporting superheroes ripe for the jump from cell to screen

Empire Meets Leigh Whannell
On Insidious Chapter 3, the fate of Jigsaw and dropping the f-bomb

Classic Feature: The Change-Up
High-concept interview where Jason becomes Ryan and vice versa. Hilarity ensues

A Guide To Rick Baker: Monster Maker
Bidding farewell to a visual effects legend

Podcast #162: Hugh Laurie
Is there a doctor in the house?

Stoical Supermen: 10 Quiet Heroes That Get Stuff Done
Silent but deadly...

12 Of The Weirdest Things Jean-Claude Van Damme Has Done On Camera
Outside of his movies, that is...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month!

Subscribe and save 44%

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device

Subscribe and save 44%

Subscribe now and save up to 67%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)