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109 of 115 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 13 months ago by GlynLuke

versus
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 3 days ago by DT


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109 of 115 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
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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
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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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 8 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Behind the Candelabra [DVD] (DVD)
I loved this movie! It gave me so much positive energy.
Douglas and Damon are a treat to watch; great actoring!! Amazing.
It could be really a devastating drama, but the story is loaded with optimism and true love.
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Behind the Candelabra by Steven Soderbergh
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