Monday, May 27, 2013

HBO's "Behind the Candelabra": Liberace and Scott Thorson, up close; Matt Damon becomes a boy again

I had already reviewed a movie about Liberace (“Behind the Music”) from the late 80s  back on May 3, 2011, and I really didn’t think the world needed another one.
But Sunday night, Aamy 26, 2013, HBO aired a new film by Stteven Soderbergh, “Behind the Candelabra”, focusing just on the relationship between Liberace (Michael Douglas) and lover Scott Thorson (Matt Damon).  The script had the benefit of a book by Scott Thorson and Alex Thorleifson.
It was fun to see Matt Damon look “young” again.  Thorson became a partner of Liberace at about age 28.  In the film, the process happens quickly, as Thorson moves in.  There’s an early scene where Liberace plays with Thorson’s legs.  Damon’s aren’t quite what they used to be.

And Thorson quickly found out about the lookism and expectations, getting a facelift himself  (Rob Lowe plays the doctor) when it was hardly needed.

The relationship is depicted as stormy and filled with jealousy and catty retorts – but the quarrels and fights don’t come to anything for a long time, as in the next scene it’s always showbiz as normal.

When the relationship starts, Liberace says "I want you to work for me" and then "I can pay a secretary to type..." and then "I want you to be my companion".  That's work?  Liberace says he can "adopt" Scott -- but that's how it worked then. 
Toward the end of the film, Thorson gets tossed out by a private investigator, and launches what would be his famous palimony suit.  In those days, an artificial “adoption” substituted for marriage.

The film gives relatively little space to Liberace’s decline and death due to AIDS in 1987, except that the estate tried to cover it up. Liberace does try to reconcile the relationship with Thorson from his deathbed.   Rock Hudson had broken the ice.

The official site is here


The earliest scenes do show Liberace’s piano technique.  I recall records of his music as a child, and it always seemed to me his entertainment was so superficial, but “everybody” liked it.  

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