With HBO you can expect something way better than just television. “Behind the Candelabra” is case in point. The story of flamboyant pianist Liberace’s five-year love affair with Scott Thorson is moviemaking at its flashy best.
Michael Douglas transforms himself into the Las Vegas entertainer with style and, most of all, believability. Liberace was larger-than-life to say the least, and it would be easy to go the SNL route with a character by painting him with broad strokes. Not so with Douglas. He embraces the role with respect. And, Matt Damon plays Thorson with the requisite skill as well, though we know much less about the man who captured the musician’s heart.
Douglas and Damon speak to the heart of the story. But, don’t underestimate the considerable talents of everyone else behind “Behind the Candelabra.” Steven Soderbergh continues to be one of the best directors working today in Hollywood. He claims to be tired of it all, but if we truly lose this talent to other interests, then the entertainment world will be all the poorer.
Of course, it’s all about the script, stupid. And, Richard LaGravenese is also A-list in my book. HBO knows how to get the very best people together to make quality television. These are some of the best.
I don’t profess to really know Liberace. I visited the museum in Las Vegas when it was open years ago. This film makes me feel like I understand this talented entertainer. It’s an insider’s look at a true showman and worth catching. Grade: A-
Street Date: September 17, 2013
Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Runtime: 120 minutes
Released by HBO Home Video