IF YOU didn’t see HBO’s movie “Behind the Candelabra,” the story of Liberace and his live-in lover Scott Thompson, as told by Steven Soderbergh, you likely heard about it. The waiting was long to see Michael Douglas take on the piano virtuoso, with none other than Matt Damon strutting his fabulous self as the lover of one of the most flamboyant performers ever to grace a Las Vegas stage.
There are hilarious moments before the very tragic end of a life spent without boundaries at a time when the entire population of gay men were being decimated because Ronald Reagan refused to listen to what everyone knew was going on. A generation of gay men were lost due to Reagan’s inability to utter the word HIV or AIDS until it was way too late.
Jezebel has a pic-apalooza and fashion review that delves into the minutia of Liberace’s style: “At home, Lee rocks a white caftan and just a few tasteful gold chains. Liz Taylor-esque.”
Rob Lowe did an interview with InsideTV on his transformation, which included dealing with migraines for the make over that delivered a very charismatic and repugnant Dr. Startz.
Did any of your friends or family see you in costume? How did they react?
Oh my gosh. I’ve taken great glee in showing pictures that I have on my iPhone of Dr. Startz to people. People, honestly, fall over. They are so repelled and engaged, which is sort of what I was going for. I wanted him to be at once repellant and engaging, if that’s possible. He reminded me of a certain genus and species of guy that you would see at Laker games during the Magic Johnson era. He looks almost like a transgendered Bee Gee. You know what I mean? He’s the fourth member of the Bee Gees: the transgendered Bee Gee, the lesser known one. But I wanted his voice to be really macho, like maybe he was a transplant New Yorker who just bought in way too hard in the LA scene. That’s my backstory for him.
Rob Lowe makes a spectacular transformation that works in every respect.
Michael Douglas is flawless as Liberace, revealing the man in a way that his fans never saw him, at least women of a certain age never did. Scott Bakula makes a comment as he and Matt Damon watch the maestro that no one in the audience watching his Las Vegas camp knows he’s gay. It’s unbelievable to consider, but that was the reality way back then.
It seems incomprehensible looking back from today. Sort of…
The whole cast does a superb job; as Liberace, Michael Douglas crafts a portrait of celebrity isolation and capriciousness worthy of an Oscar nomination–if only he were eligible.
The reason he is not eligible is because Behind the Candelabra, despite competing in the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, will not be released in US theaters. And the reason you will be watching this film (which could very well be Soderbergh’s last before he retires from movies and moves on to making TV shows full-time) on cable television instead of at your local multiplex is because of its conspicuous gayness. [Rolling Stone]
All the performances are smart portrayals, with Matt Damon delivering love, jealousy, crushing rejection and humanity, as Douglas’s Liberace floats above it all in a surreal world created of his own power of personality.
It’s a queer world ride that goes as far as you can go inside Liberace’s life, because we simply can’t know what it really would have been like to be this man. Flamboyant showman on the outside flirting with the ladies, wearing fashion and costumes that would have made most men lose it. Desperately lonely man on the inside longing for children and family life like everyone else, while trying to make sure his mother never knows.
Oh, and his mother? You will never guess who plays that part, because she is completely submerged. It’s the inestimable Debbie Reynolds. How perfect is that?