I’ll admit, I’m not usually a big fan of musician biopics. Although there have been a slew of critically acclaimed ones in the past decade (Ray, Walk The Line, etc), there’s something about the trite bring-em-up, take-em-down plot arc that isn’t always palatable for me, despite any factual authenticity. Even without prior knowledge of the film’s subject, one can expect to see a protagonist thrust into fame, become seduced by wealth, succumb to a drug addiction, and (hopefully) eventually come to terms with reality. It is because of the genre’s depressing predictability that I was apprehensive about watching Steven Soderbergh’s new Liberace biopic, Behind The Candelabra, this past weekend. I shouldn’t have been worried. After all, any film about a man whose tagline is “Too much of a good thing is wonderful” is sure to win me over.
With Michael Douglas as the epically flamboyant Liberace and Matt Damon as his cherubic young lover, this single film packs in enough glitz, glamor, and glitter to fill ten. The sets and costumes—filled with marble, gold, and fur galore— have the seedy opulence of an off-strip Las Vegas casino, making this film perfect guilty pleasure material. Cinematic grandeur aside, the film also features mind-blowing performances by its two leads and a surprising, scene-stealing turn from Rob Lowe, as a serpentine plastic surgeon. All-in-all, this new film, which premiered on HBO last Sunday, has all the makings for an instant cult classic. —Max
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Film: Behind The Candelabra
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Rob Lowe
Art Direction: Patrick M. Sullivan Jr.
Set Decoration: Barbara Munch
Costume Design: Ellen Mirojnick