It’s always interesting when you go to see a movie with a preconceived expectation of the storyline, only to be completely taken by surprise. Behind the Candelabra certainly delivered the glitz and flamboyance I was expecting from what I knew of Liberace. Granted, Liberace was not of my era, I was more of a New Romantic 80s girl myself, but I did have an idea of the kind of over-the-top showman he was. What I wasn’t expecting was the dark look into his private world and how troubling I found it to be.
Behind the Candelabra is the story of Liberace and his lover of five years, Scott Thorson. Based on a book by Thorson, we see behind the facade and excesses of Liberace’s life to his insecurities and loneliness. For a time Scott and Liberace live an idyllic lifestyle, but the cracks soon begin to appear.
As the movie heads towards its conclusion you begin to see how their relationship is sabotaged by Liberace’s vanities, and transforms Scott into a paranoid drug addict. You can’t help but wonder about the curse of celebrity and how show business, both then and now, encourages a culture of lies and deception.
There are some great performances in Behind the Candelabra. Matt Damon’s portrayal of Scott Thorson is completely realistic, from the naive young man from a foster home, through to the jaded drug addict. Michael Douglas’ mastering of the mannerisms, voice and demeanour of Liberace is flawless. But Rob Lowe, as the cosmetic surgeon who eerily reminds me of Michael Jackson, steals the show for me.
Behind the Candelabra is definitely worth seeing, but be warned, it’s definitely not G-rated!