Behind The Candelabra
Cert: 15 / 118 mins / Dir. Steven Soderbergh
As much as I enjoyed Behind The Candelabra (and I did enjoy it), I felt a sort of disconnect throughout; as if we were being shown a series of snapshots down a timeline, with little to connect them as a flowing story other than the characters. Whether this is the result of Richard LaGravenese's screenplay or Steven Soderbergh's directing is up for debate, but I think there's a much more involving film to be made from the footage they shot. At times the pace seems to drag (the opening 15 minutes), while other sections don't seem to get the screen-time they deserve (Douglas and Damon's last scene together), and the episodic structure prevents any real momentum from building up.
But… it's a thoroughly fascinating couple of hours. The film looks as gorgeous as you'd expect it to, both on and off the stage, and it's rich with period-detail that never seems overdone. Given the nature of the story, 'Candelabra' is surprisingly light on the overblown camp that you'd expect, although it's frequently funny and frequently sad, frequently at the same time.
This film really belongs to Michael Douglas, and he looks like he's having the time of his life playing Liberace. He's pretty much the only character I warmed to, but I get the impression that's intentional. Matt Damon puts in a fairly solid turn as Scott Thorson, Liberace's lover and companion. While I had no problem buying into the characters individually, I wasn't convinced of the emotional connection between the two, and that is what the film's supposed to be about, isn't it? But as I said above, I think this is more down to how the film has been written and edited rather than the performances themselves.
Dan Aykroyd and Scott Bakula provide an understated backup presence, and Douglas's only real competitor for audience attention comes in the form of Rob Lowe as a pill-dealing plastic surgeon who can't close his eyes properly.
All in all, it's a film that I do recommend, but as a snapshot of the private life of an amazing entertainer, not as a love story.
I wanted to love Behind The Candelabra, but ended up only being able to like it. It never becomes more than the sum of its parts, and the potential is there for a much greater film.
Mostly, although the trailer's a lot more dynamic than the film.
Not as much as I wanted to.
I think it achieves what Soderbergh set out to do.
In the hands of a different director, I think 'Candelabra' could have been more emotionally engaging. But who would be right for the gig?
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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