Movie recommendation: Behind the candelabra

Movie recommendation: Behind the candelabra
Cinema still: Behind The Candelabra starring Matt Damon

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (R21)

119 minutes

***

Liberace was a showman who knew how to play the crowd as well as he could tinkle the ivories. Excess was his trademark, from the candelabra on his piano to the gaudy costumes.

In this biopic, director Steven Soderbergh strips away the smiley public facade to show us the insecure and controlling man beneath. The focus is on the last 10 years of Liberace's (Michael Douglas) life and his secret relationship with lover Scott Thorson.

While Liberace had to hide his sexuality to the extent of suing those who insinuated he was gay, he was not a victim. He was a rich celebrity who was aware of the clout he wielded and the film explores the uneven power dynamic between Liberace and the much younger Thorson. Creepily, he wanted to remake Thorson in his own likeness. Both actors are good, particularly Douglas, who is believable as a showy queen with a fondness for pretty young boys.

Damon also gets to show his range as the secret live-in lover.


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