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111 of 117 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Furs, facelifts & poodles
What an unexpectedly pleasing, touching movie.
When I first heard Michael Douglas had been cast as arch showman Liberace (someone I remember on TV from my youth) I thought what inspired casting it was. What I didn`t suspect was just how moving and believable an impression of the man he would give.
Liberace was as camp as they come, and a very closeted gay man in...
Published 14 months ago by GlynLuke

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars ... simply doesn't go anywhere near to off-setting the very poor dialogue, direction
Two A list stars simply doesn't go anywhere near to off-setting the very poor dialogue, direction, production and all in all a dire piece of cinematography. The darker side of Liberace could have been more effectively portrayed without the graphic, cringeworthy, sex scenes which throughout studded ('scuse the pun) the film. Aweful.
Published 1 month ago by DT


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111 of 117 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Furs, facelifts & poodles, 24 Jun 2013
By 
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Behind the Candelabra [DVD] (DVD)
What an unexpectedly pleasing, touching movie.
When I first heard Michael Douglas had been cast as arch showman Liberace (someone I remember on TV from my youth) I thought what inspired casting it was. What I didn`t suspect was just how moving and believable an impression of the man he would give.
Liberace was as camp as they come, and a very closeted gay man in an America not quite ready to embrace such a concept, particularly someone whose persona was that of an unthreatening, cosy, mildly outrageous middle-of-the-road entertainer. Things evidently haven`t come that far, as director Steven Soderbergh couldn`t get funding from the studios for a feature film (too overtly gay, apparently!) so his project became a TV movie, though you`d never know it, such is the lustre of the finished film he managed to make, despite the puerile queasiness of American sensibilities even now.
What is so effective about Douglas`s considered performance is that, rather than overplay his hand, making an already flamboyant, often flippant man into a vapid caricature - which is what I`d feared - he in fact underplays, to great effect, leaving the script, sets, costumes - oh, the costumes! - to go OTT, while he allows us to see the real man `behind the candelabra`. It`s an intelligent decision, which repays great dividends.
I`ve rarely seen Douglas so relaxed in a role. Like his dad, he`s quite an intense actor, and can be a showy one, so the fact that he reins it in here is to be applauded.
Matt Damon, as his younger lover Scott Thorson, on whose memoir the film is based, is a revelation. We are used to seeing Damon in buttoned-up, self-contained, rather unsmiling roles - from Ripley to Bourne - but here he lets rip, and then some! With long floppy hair and a bod in disgustingly fine fettle, he plays the part with exactly the right combination of youthful brio and wounded innocence. He can be a witty actor, and he uses his propensity for dry wit here, though mostly he is either wide-eyed, drugged up, or livid at the latest example of his lover-daddy`s perceived selfishness. It`s a bravura piece of acting from this invariably superb actor.
Rob Lowe...well, what can I say? Inspirational casting, once more. He plays a droopy-eyed plastic surgeon with dodgy teeth, and seems to be permanently either stoned or in some otherwise beatific state. It is one of the oddest performances in a film I`ve seen for some time, and I`m undecided whether Lowe should be proud or thoroughly ashamed of himself. (On balance, proud.)
Dan Aykroyd is barely recognisable as Liberace`s long-suffering manager, and turns in a terrific, credible performance, while none other than Debbie Reynolds is completely unrecognisable as Liberace`s mother: Mrs Liberace, for that was indeed his real surname.
By the end it would take a hard heart not to be moved, and I was, both by Liberace and his lonely, sad demise, and by Douglas`s performance.
I wouldn`t go so far as to call this a great movie, but it`s so much better than anyone had any right to expect it to be.
An appropriate quote (surprisingly not used in the film) from the man himself:

`Gee, you`ve been such a wonderful audience that I don`t like to take your money. But I will!`

Classy. Like this movie.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bourne with gender identities, 15 Oct 2013
This review is from: Behind the Candelabra [DVD] (DVD)
It's hard to imagine super-spy Jason Bourne in a sparkly thong, throwing a hissy-fit at his older male lover. Perhaps that's why Matt Damon's performance has got him quite a lot of praise for his portrayal of the young man (Scott Thorson) who lived (and loved) Hollywood icon Liberace.
Michael Douglas too is on fine form as the man himself, displaying the voice and the mannerisms of the flamboyant entertainer to a tee.

It's a `rise and fall' tale of love that was probably doomed from the start. It's based on the `kiss and tell' book that Thorson wrote once Liberace had died, so we only have his word on it that this is the `truth.' But, truth or not, it's an entertaining piece of tragic drama that allows both him and Douglas to put in some stellar performances.

It probably isn't for everyone. If you look at internet message boards, you'll see a fair few people who found it `overly gay' in subject matter. However, if that sort of thing offends you, you really shouldn't even be considering watching a semi-biopic about a gay couple's life.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars gets the tone just right, 25 Jun 2013
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Behind the Candelabra [DVD] (DVD)
As others have said, there is something very good about the tone Steven Soderbergh achieves in this film. The first part is particularly enjoyable, I felt, when the effect of the costumes and general flamboyancy matched the upbeat story of Liberace meeting Scott Thorson, the young man who would become his lover and general all-round assistant. As things go on and cracks begin to appear in the relationship, it is less entertaining, but always interesting, and even when things are desperate it never becomes hollow, with Scott's 'bad behaviour' always kept within the limits of his character - this is a man who, however hurt, can only go so far in the direction of unpleasantness. The way this is kept in view even at the most hysterical moments is very well handled. Michael Douglas is excellent and gives a brave performance as Liberace, making the showman appear human but not glossing over the less good sides of his personality. He has the necessary charisma to make him a magnet to the camera, not just by his clothes, in fact he is never upstaged by them! But for me the film gets its heart from the Matt Damon role. I thought he brought this rather lost character stunningly to life, and the film fills us in very well on his foster home background, his naivety and his neediness. Towards the end you are wondering whether he has been more loved or abused in the relationship, where in other hands it might unquestionably seem the latter, but this is related to the essential goodness of this man. Furthermore Damon is so lovely in the opening part of the film, I was reminded of how perfect his looks really are, and here he is quite beefed up. To see Damon in this role is quite something! Then he undergoes facelifts at the wishes of Liberace, who wants to make him look more like himself - shades of Vertigo with a new twist - and his problems start at this point - not that hard to understand, really. As a balancing act between these two men and these various other poles - not least of which is the intimate feel the whole thing has in spite of the onstage part and the larger-than-life persona, the film really succeeds very well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising, 10 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Behind the Candelabra [DVD] (DVD)
Could hardly believe the actors on the title were in the film so well was the charachterisation and acting in this movie. I felt a little uncomfortable at times with the sex scenes but that is my own hang up, it was a really good film that I could certainly watch again
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining., 10 Feb 2014
By 
Devora Pope (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Behind the Candelabra [DVD] (DVD)
Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are superb! Brilliant, funny and at times, quite sad. Have recommended it to all my friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful film., 9 Feb 2014
By 
R. D. Mayles (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Behind the Candelabra [DVD] (DVD)
I watched this film on a long haul flight and really enjoyed it. Wanting to buy a little extra gift for the wife at Christmas I thought about this she had mentioned it when it came out and I didn't fancy it much but as I had now seen it and enjoyed it I bought it for her. What a triumph ,she loved it and I enjoyed it even more 2nd time around. A superb movie.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cosmetic Love, 28 July 2013
By 
Mr. A. J. Richards "yourbiteall" (Weston Super Mare) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Behind the Candelabra [DVD] (DVD)
Soderbergh has made some curious but very good films of late and this ranks as a fave of the year so far for me. Michael Douglas, playing against type, is impressive as is Damon who should without doubt be awarded some sort of accolade come awards season(he has not hit these notes since Good Will Hunting). But its the script that wins over for me with its themes of loneliness, abandonment and fundamental urges (its trying to be a classic love story after all) coming to the forefront of what on the surface seems flamboyant, showy and enigmatic. With flashes of dark humour and the aforementioned performances, Behind the Candelabra is a heart felt and melancholic film that all too often strays away from being a bland 'lets throw in musical numbers every 5 minutes' bio pic to concentrate on something much more complex and meaningful. And all the better for that. Look out for Rob Lowe as a curious plastic surgeon, who may just win an award for 'most convincing Intoxicated with an illegal substance portrayal' award anytime soon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Behind The Candelabra [2013] [Blu-ray], 18 Oct 2013
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Behind The Candelabra [2013] [Blu-ray] FUNNY AND FABULOUS! SIMPLY OUTRAGEOUS! EXCEPTIONAL! MAGNIFICENT!

Before Elvis Presley, before Elton John, Madonna and Lady Gaga, there was Liberace the infamous pianist, outrageous entertainer and flamboyant star of stage and television. A name synonymous with showmanship and extravagance, he lit up every stage he performed on, as bright as his candelabras and with a unique flair that gained him millions of devoted fans across the globe.

From Academy Award® winning director Steven Soderbergh.* ‘Behind The Candelabra’ is the outrageous and gloriously entertaining true story of Liberace [Michael Douglas**] and his secret love affair with the young and handsome Scott Thorson [Matt Damon***] who have an intense rollercoaster ride of hedonistic fun, flamboyance and excess.

*2001: Steven Soderbergh for Best Director for ‘Traffic.’ **1998: Michael Douglas for Best Actor for ‘Wall Street’ / 1996: Producer, Best Picture for ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest.’ ***1998: Matt Damon for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly For The Screen for ‘Good Will Hunting.’

FILM FACT: At the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, Baby Boy (a dog that appeared in the film as one of Liberace's pet poodles) won the Palm Dog Award. This is not an official part of the festival but takes place at the same time. ‘Behind the Candelabra’ won the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Movie or Miniseries and TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries, and Specials. The film won eleven Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries or Movie and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for Michael Douglas. British Academy Film Awards: Matt Damon for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Richard LaGravenese for Best Adapted Screenplay. Best Production Design. Best Costume Design. Best Makeup and Hair

Cast: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Dan Aykroyd, Rob Lowe, Debbie Reynolds, Scott Bakula, Boyd Holbrook, Tom Papa, Nicky Katt, Cheyenne Jackson, Paul Reiser, David Koechner and Peggy King

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Producers: Gregory Jacobs, Michael Polaire and Susan Ekins

Screenplay: Richard LaGravenese

Composer: Marvin Hamlisch

Cinematography: Peter Andrews

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 PCM Stereo

Subtitles: English SDH

Running Time: 119 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Entertainment One

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review – If you had asked me a few years ago if I thought Michael Douglas and Matt Damon could make for an engaging and believable romantic couple, I probably would have laughed in your face. If you then continued to tell me that the pair would actually be portraying Liberace and his young lover, I would have well, I probably would have continued to laugh in your face. Now, don't get me wrong, both actors are more than capable performers, but the odd pairing just doesn't scream "captivating chemistry." Well, it turns out that such an assumption from me would have been dead wrong, and now we have the proof. I mean, just look at that the beautiful Region B/2 Blu-ray embossed cover!

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, 'Behind the Candelabra' presents an intimate, funny, and genuinely dramatic peek into the colourful pianist's personal life, exposing a romance that starts off innocent enough but soon becomes increasingly chaotic, twisted, and unhealthy. As passion transitions into spite, and affection transforms into jealousy, the two tormented lovers engage in a roller coaster ride of emotions, all set against the backdrop of the over-the-top glitz and glamour of showbiz wealth and fame.

Based on the 1988 memoir "Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace," the film focuses on the real-life relationship between Scott Thorson [Matt Damon], a young aspiring veterinarian, and an aging Liberace [Michael Douglas], the flashy superstar pianist. After being introduced to each other backstage at one of the musician's shows, the two instantly take a liking toward one another, and soon Liberace hires Scott to be his personal assistant. Their relationship then quickly becomes romantic, but things ultimately start to take a darker turn. As plastic surgery, drugs, and jealousy take hold, their coupling becomes damaging, threatening to unravel both their lives.

The story is essentially told from Thorson's perspective, and he serves as our window into Liberace's lavish world. At first overwhelmed by the flashy entertainer's extravagant lifestyle, the once modest and innocent young man eventually comes to embrace the many perks that come his way. In fact, he ultimately goes a little too far, and Matt Damon does a great job with the stark transformation, gradually shifting the character's personality until he's barely recognizable (inside and out). Forced to have plastic surgery and take drugs for weight loss by Liberace, Thorson has a bit of a crisis of identity, and the actor plays up the man's increasing confusion and frustrations perfectly illustrates all while remaining infatuated with the very source of his problems.

Of course, as radical as Matt Damon's transformation is, it's nothing compared to Michael Douglas' impressive metamorphosis into Liberace. I must admit, at first I couldn't help but see the famous actor behind the facade, but as the runtime continued, Douglas gradually disappeared into the role, truly embodying the character. With a solid approximation of the flamboyant star's distinct voice and mannerisms, and some great costumes and makeup as his groundwork to build upon, the actor goes on to offer a multifaceted portrayal that never feels like an imitation or a caricature. Instead, he feels like a real person, full of insecurity, loneliness, longing, eccentricity, and vulnerability, exposing the actual man behind the larger-than-life persona.

Together, Matt Damon and Michael Douglas form a completely believable couple, and at first their courtship is more or less positive. A lot of the film is dedicated to pillow talk between the two, and their conversations feel intimate and natural. Likewise, the film doesn't shy away from their physical interactions, providing a frank depiction of sex. A great deal of loving humour is also derived from the characters' innate eccentricities (again, just look at that cover!), and the filmmakers play up some of the inherent silliness and strangeness of the subject matter to great effect (Rob Lowe's character is especially memorable and should of got some form of a gong) without ever really sacrificing emotion or drama.

With that said, as funny as a lot of the runtime can be, the narrative does eventually take some increasingly dark and unsettling turns, revealing the affair's more disturbing elements, including a particularly creepy desire from Liberace to adopt Thorson and literally re-shape him in his own image. This all leads to an interesting examination of emotional control, facades, fickle infatuations, the pitfalls of fame, and the consequences of insatiable desires. What starts out as a supportive relationship grows ugly and petty, and it becomes hard to watch as the two lovers try to spite each other in painful ways.

Though the subject matter might seem inherently flashy on the surface, Steven Soderbergh mostly plays against expectations, and instead offers a rather restrained approach, opting for a more functional and modest cinematic form that adheres to a fittingly vintage look. Often letting the characters and situations simply speak for themselves, the director engenders a personal, intimate mood with well-crafted shots and movements that, while artistically designed, don't really draw attention to the filmmaking. That's not to say that the movie is completely without spectacle, however, and there are key scenes where Steven Soderbergh definitely turns up the dial on his style knob.

Several recreations of Liberace's on stage performances are all appropriately showy, with a few quick cutting close-ups of the talented artist's impressive finger work gliding across his piano. Some later scenes that follow Thorson through his drug addiction are also home to more kinetic visuals, with disorienting moving shots that go in and out of focus, replicating the characters' own distraught and paranoid state of mind. As one might expect, the production design itself is also dazzling, bringing the performer's shining costumes and extravagant homes to life, adding an invaluable sense of outrageous character and personality to the proceedings. And then of course there's the film's finale, which features a brief excursion into the surreal, playing up Liberace's penchant for glitzy excess one last time to great success.

According to reports before the movie's release, Steven Soderbergh apparently shopped the project around to several major studios, but all of them balked at the notion of making a film based on the topic. After watching the completed movie, I really can't see what they were objecting too and us brits had no problem with the film, in fact we welcomed it with open arms of celebration, as we Brits are not upset with its subject matter. Sure, the concept isn’t exactly commercial (OK, it's pretty damn far from commercial), but with Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, and Steven Soderbergh all on board, it at least had a good chance of drawing critical success and perhaps even some awards recognition (all things it has indeed garnered even in its small screen incarnation). Regardless, thankfully HBO snatched up the project, and the results are more than worthwhile. An intimate examination of jealousy, romance, overindulgence, and the crazy, hurtful things we can do to one another when love is involved, 'Behind the Candelabra' successfully peels back the surface layers of Liberace's later life, offering an emotional, humorous, thoughtful, and appropriately sparkling piece of filmmaking.

Blu-ray Video Quality – The film is presented in a beautiful 1080p encoded transfer in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Shot on the Red Epic, the film has a distinct style that looks quite nice on Blu-ray, enhancing the glittery, retro content of the story well.

The digital source is mostly clean, but there is a light layer of noise visible from time to time, and a few isolated spikes in noise during darker scenes that can be a little distracting. The picture adheres to an intentionally soft appearance with a faintly diffuse glow that helps to create a certain "vintage" look. Though this softer quality does limit detail, clarity is still good and there is a solid sense of depth and fine textures in characters and wardrobe choices. To this end, all of Liberace's extravagant, glittery costumes sparkle off the screen and one can make out every speck of sequins. Colours are often cast in a golden sheen, and while the palette isn't particularly varied, the aesthetic fits nicely with the 1970s and 1980s setting. Thankfully, contrast is well balanced with steady black levels and good shadow delineation. Appropriately stylised with a soft, golden glow, 'Behind the Candelabra' looks very good on Blu-ray, preserving the director's intentions without any major issues.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – The movie is provided with an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and a 2.0 PCM Stereo track. Optional English SDH subtitles are also included. Modest but relatively engaging, this is a solid, albeit restrained mix. Speech is clear and well prioritised, giving ample presence to Michael Douglas' distinct take on Liberace's trademark voice. The track is fairly front-loaded, but effects like crowd reactions and applause during shows do hit the surrounds. Likewise, other ambient effects like crickets or background clatter in a rowdy club are dispersed naturally around the soundstage. Directionality is decent as well, with a few key sounds (like a door slamming off to the side) being relegated to the appropriate speakers. The piano music itself comes through with wonderful clarity and dimension, bringing great range and depth to the musical performances. With that said the film as a whole is rather quiet, with a subdued sense of space. Likewise, bass activity is negligible. The sound design is a little subdued, but the more delicate approach works well with the intimate subject matter. A bit more texture and immersion would have been welcomed, but as a whole this is a fitting mix.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

The Making of Behind The Candelabra [14:00] Presented in 1080i with 2.0 DTS audio and the same subtitle options as the main feature, this is a standard behind-the-scenes documentary with cast and crew interviews and on-set footage. The participants discuss adapting the source material, approaching the characters, and what is was like to work with Steven Soderbergh. Crew members also elaborate on recreating Liberace's extravagant homes and costumes, and there's even some brief archive footage of the man himself. Though this offers a little more than usual promotional fluff, the documentary is sadly too brief.

Finally, 'Behind the Candelabra' offers an intimate peek into superstar pianist Liberace's personal life and his turbulent affair with a younger man. Through their story, director Steven Soderbergh shines a particularly glittering light on a fascinating real-life figure, while simultaneously examining interesting concepts dealing with love, jealousy, excess, and fame. The Blu-ray features a strong video presentation that respects the director's intended aesthetic, and a solid audio mix. Sadly, we only get one brief documentary, but it's still worth a look. While this isn't the most impressive disc, the technical presentation is good and the film itself is a well-crafted biopic that will likely even appeal to those who might seem apprehensive about its subject matter. When I purchased the Region A/1 Blu-ray I had no sound and so I sent it back to American and instead purchased this Region B/2 Blu-ray and it is absolutely stunning and the Slip Cover Design is far superior to the Region A/1 Blu-ray Cover. So all in all this is a stunning film and presentation and has gone pride of place in my Blu-ray Collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Camp candelabra, 10 July 2014
To correct one of the other reviews on here, the sexual content has nothing to do with it not being considered for an Oscar. It was not considered as it was an HBO television movie in the usa. Also if sexual content stoppex films getting an Oscar, then Jodie Foster wouldn't have won for The Accused. Anyway, its a good film. I forgot I was watching Damon and Douglas as the performances are so good, totally against type for them. Also Rob Lowe steals the few scenes he's in, hilarious. It's probably not for everyone, but I and my family really enjoyed it.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Wonderful Film, 8 Aug 2013
This review is from: Behind the Candelabra [DVD] (DVD)
This is a lovely, endearing, and thoroughly well-meaning film that ranks amongst the best I've seen this year. For me, it was a perfect antidote to the loud, angry, fight-fests that have been plaguing our multiplexes lately (I saw it directly after Man of Steel), and I quickly felt soothed by the gentle pacing and dialogue-based delights of this film. Two hours of people talking about genuine human feelings- how wonderful!

The plot concerns the 6 year relationship between Liberace (Michael Douglas, nearly unrecognisable), the well known pianist/entertainer/comedian and the much younger aspiring vet Scott Thorson (Matt Damon, in a quiet but very effective role). The film is unclear as to Scott's age (it could be anywhere between 25 and 35), but in real life Scott was only 17. We see their relationship nearly in full, from the moment they met to the moment they parted, and their tender, final moments, and as a result the film gives off the imitable and wonderfully rewarding feeling of having to got to know two lovely, flawed, but basically good people. Liberace is loud, showy, very insecure, and, we sense, deeply missing something in his life- Scott is quieter, ready to listen, good of heart, and also deeply missing something in his life. They are a perfect match for each other.

The primary pleasure of this film, as you might have gathered, is simply getting to know both of these people, and the film takes great steps to ensure that neither one of the pair is focussed on in particular, and both are given equal time and care (despite being called Behind the Candelabra, which hints at a Liberace-oriented biopic)- the film begins with Scott, and continues that way for about fifteen minutes, but when Liberace is introduced, we do indeed go "behind the candelabra", seeing Liberace behind the piano, something audiences of the time would never see. Soon, Scott has also gone behind the candelabra with Liberace, and how the two play off against each other make for small scale, lovely cinematic fireworks.

There is also a small, dark vein of comedy under this film, as the film dissects, in its own way, celebrity culture and the plastic surgery fixation- Rob Lowe's surgeon being a grotesquely comic creation- all while never losing focus of the central relationship.

There is a single image in this film, contained in one scene, which defines why I loved it so much. It occurs about a third of the way through, and it is an image of Liberace and Scott sat next to each other on a sofa, talking about something or other, Scott's legs in Liberace's lap, Liberace gently rubbing Scott's calf. It was the moment at which I fell in love with the film, the gentle unforced intimacy of the scene perfectly conveying the nature of any true, meaningful relationship.

See this film if you care about human beings. It's an absolute treat, and you'll come away feeling profoundly, quietly touched.
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