Behind the Candelabra is the best film I’ve seen this year. Going into it I knew practically nothing about Liberace other than that he was a campy, closeted pianist from years gone by. The moment I saw one of my favorite actors – Scott Bakula – in the beginning of the movie, I knew I was in for something special. Behind the Candelabra is filled with shocking moments that I don’t want to spoil. But at its focal point is a love story between Liberace and Scott Thorson.
The music in the film was outstanding. While he may be remembered for his over-the-top outfits and larger-than-life personality, Liberace was a tremendous pianist. Michael Douglas, who should win an award for his role in this movie, did a fantastic job of portraying Liberace’s musicals talents and passion for the business. The songs that appear in the movie run the gamut, everything from “Begin the Beguine” to “The Impossible Dream.” It’s a musical feast for the ears.
Douglas was also phenomenal when it came to conveying how insecure and self-centered Liberace was. Matt Damon, who played Liberace’s love interest, Scott Thorson, was equally compelling. His emotional – and physical – transformation from the start of the film to the end was both shocking and heartbreaking.
The stellar supporting cast included Rob Lowe as a frightening doctor, Dan Aykroyd as Liberace’s manager and an unidentifiable Debbie Reynolds as Liberace’s mother, Frances. The chemistry between all of these actors and actresses helped bring this fascinating story to life in a way that kept me glued to the screen the entire time.
Visually, Behind the Candelabra was a gorgeous movie. Steven Soderbergh’s skillful direction resulted in a film filled with vibrancy. Not only did it do a wonderful job of highlighting the different years of the story through visuals and music, but having the chance to see Liberace’s opulent lifestyle was breathtaking.
I can’t say enough good things about this movie. It opened my eyes to Liberace’s musical talent, as well as his infatuation with young men and himself. But despite all his flaws, I wound up caring about his fate at the end of the film. The most moving interaction involved Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in the final 15 minutes of movie; it was so good that I watched the scene a second time before finishing the film. And what made it so good was the fact that the feelings these two individuals had for each other was palpable. In a cinematic world filled with superficial dialogue and paper-thin characters, this was no small feat.
Behind the Candelabra was an excellent movie about an extremely talented man. I recommend you stop what you’re doing and watch this film right away; it’s a riveting tale that you won’t soon forget.
Below is the trailer for Behind the Candelabra and a look at how the film was made.