Tuesday, May 28, 2013


It was a lot of things that escalated the hopes. That it was about Liberace. That it had Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in it. That Steven Soderbergh directed it. That it was announced to be his last project. And finally following all the fanfare when BEHIND THE CANDELABRA actually broke out onto the TV screens this week, the sparkling HBO movie plagued with predictability, was slightly disappointing as a package.  
The film was no doubt a celebration of the persona that Liberace was. You get an idea of the personal life that this enormous celebrity lead, his loves, his obsessions, his weaknesses and so on and so forth. But it all comes across as a tad too familiar. One had seen every part of it, one place or the other; the larger than life superstar, his assumption of a perpetual giver, celebrity seclusion, the grip that money has on the lives of especially the filthy rich and a wide spectrum of other glitz –n-glamour aspects including the horrors of plastic surgery, all done with panache (which wouldn’t have been difficult to somebody as style-obsessed as Academy Awar winning Soderbergh). But the fact that it’s all very tastefully executed doesn’t keep the film’s novelty afloat at any point. Not the good production design, not the commendable costumes and not the great make up manages to achieve it.
Besides everything else, BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, based on the book by the same name written by Scott Thorson, Liberace’s real life lover and live-in partner (played by Matt Damon) could boast of two stellar performances, that of Douglas as Liberace and Damon as his young lover dragged into the quagmire that their relationship turns out to be. Even though the chemistry between them were hugely lacking, the casting of these two talented men is undoubtedly the only thing new about the entire project. While Matt Damon made a departure from his trademark action image with the sensitive lover of Liberace, pushed to self-destructive limits of paranoia, Michael Douglas as the "flaming queen" is every bit convincing as the charismatic and perverse mentor who is responsible for the same. The impeccable impersonation of Liberace could easily be one of Douglas’ best on-screen portrayals to date. Rob Lowe in a slight supporting role also makes a mark.
With predictability as the nemesis in a glaring shape, Soderbergh should probably stop pretending surprised already at the point that the film had no producers initially and it ended on TV first. The reason perhaps was not just the sexuality, as he still prefers to believe. It’s very upsetting when a well-made movie is not compelling enough. BEHIND THE CANDELABRA is certainly the one to watch if you are not crazy about the idea of what-will-happen-next. Was this the last one for real, Mr Soderbergh? 

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