In “Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace” Thorson described his five-year relationship with the star, who concealed his homosexuality a lifetime and like movie star Rock Hudson died of AIDS – on which his secret became public.
In 2008, Soderbergh got a strong screenplay adaptation of writer Richard LaGravenese and commitments of Matt Damon and Michael Douglas, who in Hollywood both are known as money makers, they wanted to play these roles at a reduced rate. But to Soderberghs dismay no film company wanted to produce it, because the film would be gay and therefore unmarketable. HBO produced it for their TV channel. In Europe HBO is not widely available, so here it plays in cinema’s.
Last night I went to see, with a friend, the TV movie during Gay Night at Pathé de Munt. I’ve never seen a sold out theater, later we heard they sold more tickets than the theater could hold so another theater, next door, changed its programming and showed the same movie at the same time. We could have gone to the premiere a week before, but paying 60 euros a head extra, just for walking the red carpet, some champagne and nibbles, while the Dutch celebrities would go in for free… that was not worth it. Now we had, still a glass of pink champagne in our hands, before the movie started. And we saw some trailers for the next Gay Night in September and October, which we’ll be going to see.
The film begins in 1977, when dog trainer Thorson [Damon] is proposed, by a friend to Liberace. Thorson is 17, the pianist played by Douglas is 56, but he excites the boy with ease. When Liberace, after the honeymoon, proposes to remodel themselves with help of a plastic surgeon to his image, Thorson agrees. It gives him an addiction to painkillers and other drugs, which makes a distance between them seems inevitable.
Damon is 25 years older than his character, but the balance of power between Thorson and Liberace by him and Douglas is so convincing and nuanced played a better cast seems unthinkable. The two give the film an appealing emotional core, who subdued thanks to Soderberghs style ensures that the absurdly kitschy decor does not degenerate into a freak show. “Behind the Candelabra” is both hilarious and touching.
The naked ass of Damon is a plus too! [not a stand-in]