Of course many media outlets pubbed Behind the Candelabra as Michael Douglas and Matt Damon hooking up in the film based on Liberace’s life. Silly media, this film is so much more than that. A time when phone numbers were unlisted, when excess was of the essence, when “look at me now” was as human nature as a blinking of the eye and when a Candelabra burned on one end, two men were together in fiery and passionate secrecy.
Behind the Candelabra premiered on a Sunday. How ironic, you know if you’re into religion? I also note that because it is unlike any other premiere day of an HBO Film, which is usually Saturday. Michael Douglas was great as Liberace. Matt Damon truly dug into his character, Scott and balanced his naïveté and power that he grew into. Both went in as the portrayal of this relationship. It’s beyond complicated. I loved the quote, “You’re gonna adopt someone you’re fucking?” asked by Scott’s drug dealer about Liberace. Scott grew up with no father figure, at least one that he would acknowledge. Liberace, despite having adoring audiences and fans, wished to look nothing like his father as he also felt alone. Liberace wanted children. Scott grew empathy weight and a drug addiction. Both would not let each other go.
The film is whimsical, Liberace was also very entertaining and humorous as well as emotional and Debbie Reynolds is unrecognizable as Liberace’s mother, Frances. Rob Lowe was a nice addition as Dr. Jack Startz and although Bob Black, played by Scott Bakula, introduced Scott to Liberace, he was barely in the film except as Scott’s voice of reasoning and showed to be the most father figure to Scott. I was disturbed yet touched by the last scene between Liberace and Scott. I thought it was a manhunt when it was revealed how Liberace died. Another quote I loved was when Liberace says, “When one achieves star status, it is not your point to change the world.” This is also not the first time Michael and Matt played gay characters. They were both on separate episodes of the dearly loved Will and Grace.
After the film ended, I got up, grabbed my Chips Ahoy bag and went to close the shades. I completely forgot that I was at home. This film is why people pay their subscription for HBO. The film was not explicit but used the HBO platform. I hope that this excellently written, acted and directed film from absolute Hollywood heavyweights helps HBO refocus on the content that they bring into viewers’ homes. This film goes back to my idea that The Future is Square.
Side question: Was it intentional the Magic Mike, the racily popular male Steven Soderbergh film, premiered Saturday night?