Behind the Candelabra

Being a little too young (I don’t get to say that very often these days), I didn’t really know much about Liberace, except that he was a famous for being a flamboyantly dressed pianist with a penchant for all things sparkly. According to this biopic directed by Steven Soderbergh, he also had a penchant for much younger men, too.

Candelabra focuses on Liberace’s relationship with Scott Thorson, from their first meeting to the bitter end several years later. I really have to aploud the excellent casting of these roles: Micheal Douglas is truly outstanding as the OTT Liberace, resplendent in gold and diamante – he both looks and sounds bizarrely like the man himself. Matt Damon also gives a sterling performance as Liberace’s much younger lover, Scott. Both stars really are a very pleasant surprise; Douglas’ Liberace is creepy, needy and manipulative while Damon’s Scott is naive, jealous and malleable.

The sets and costumes are gaudy and lurid, and should really get top billing behind the two leads. There’s also an amusing cameo from Dan “Ghostbusters” Ackroyd, sporting a pretty special toupee and Quantum Leap fans (that’ll be everyone, surely?) should look out for a fleeting appearance by Scott Bakula.

There’s a lot to like about this film, although the main characters are flawed and not always likeable, and it’s a tad on the long side at two hours. Worth a watch for the performances alone. And can you believe Matt Damon was 42, here? Whatever moisturiser he uses, I want some.

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