Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Behind The Candelabra

I caught the Liberace biopic, Behind The Candelabra, last night and found it highly entertaining, even moving. While on the surface it looks like your typical flamboyant sugar daddy desperate rent boy tale, it's not. Somehow the filmmakers were able to portray all the ostentatious camp ridiculousness of the man who was Liberace without making it camp or ridiculous. This thing had a real human heart.
Michael Douglas and Matt Damon
I was astonished at how thoroughly Michael Douglas lost himself in the role, pulling off effete and full of flourish without reducing Liberace to caricature. The relationship between him and Matt Damon's character was so layered and the filmmakers refuse to categorize or condemn it. Liberace tried to cover up the cause of his death from AIDS, but by this time we feel not even pity so much as  understanding for a trapped man who still went forward and found his own way to shine.

The film will not be up for any Oscars as it was released first on television. HBO were the only ones with the balls to purchase what no studio would touch as the subject matter is - still, to this day - scary. So I predict a hell of a lot of Emmy's. And not least for its humor. Also featured are Cheyenne Jackson, an un-recognizeable Debbie Reynold's as Liberace's mother, and a hilarious Rob Lowe as a plastic surgeon who can't close his eyes for all his face-lifts, who sculpts Matt Damon's face to look more like a young Liberace (!) and gets him hooked on the "California Diet" (addictive speed pills).

At one point, the plastic surgeon gives Liberace a facelift and after the procedure, Liberace asks, wide-eyed, "Will I ever be able to close my eyes again?" To which the surgeon responds, "Not really, but just think how you'll always be able to see people's reaction to how FABULOUS you look!"
Rob Lowe is pure gold here. Check out these eyes that can't close.
Of his character's look, Lowe said somewhere he felt like the long lost transsexual BeeGee. 

No comments: