DVD review: Behind the Candelabra (15)


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The Independent Culture

Or, as it might have been called, “Sex, Lies and Fabulous Capes”. If this skewed biopic of Liberace turns out to be Stephen Soderbergh's swansong (as he has threatened), the director leaves on a high.

It paints a picture of the rhinestoned pianist that is less than flattering – as one might expect given it is based on the autobiography of his one-time lover, Scott Thorson, who was turfed out of his life after five years together.

Michael Douglas gives a supreme performance as the world’s most flamboyant showman, alternately charisma personified and reptilian predator, while Matt Damon is extraordinary as Thorson, whose story is as entertainingly outrageous – being forced to have plastic surgery to look more like his benefactor, for instance – as it is quite possibly apocryphal.

The dialogue is catty and the costumes natty – but the narrative is interested more in the rhythms of the central, human relationship than it is in the gilded ephemera that surrounds it. Spirited, sassy, sensational.