Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Life with Liberace Behind the Candelabra
HBO's latest film -- Behind the Candelabra -- is based on the 1988 tell-all memoir, Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace. I prefer to call it Libby Dearest as it's a juicy view through a glass darkly. Well, Viva Las Vegas for that! The glitz, the glamor, the gossip! Why, there's not a skeleton left in Liberace's closet by the time this memoir's been told, never mind a wire hanger!
It must be said that Scott Thorson's story (co-written with Alex Thorleifson) is told by someone whose life has been shady to be sure; sordid to be certain; sleazy easily. Not the most reliable of narrators, perhaps. But what drama!
Surely, screenplay writer Richard LaGravenese and director Steven Soderbergh saw the purple possibilities. The sex scenes in this movie (released on HBO in the USA; theatrically through the rest of the world) are so raw, they even shocked me! I never thought I'd see such high-calibre movie stars act out what's going on in BtC!
This is an all-around solidly made film, however, starring Michael Douglas as legendary lady, Liberace. In my opinion, a crowning achievement in his career. Matt Damon, as Scott, also turns in a powerful performance, though playing a 17-year-old (when our story starts) was quite a stretch. Supporting cast is excellent: Cheyenne Jackson, Rob Lowe, Debbie Reynolds in a scene-stealing role as Liberace's mother; Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula, Paul Reiser!
Set in the Sin City of Vegas, what goes on there obviously doesn't just stay there! BtC takes us behind, on top of, under, over and up the candelabra! The delicious decadence, debauchery, dissipation, depravity, drugs and dirty linen! Divine! Who knew Liberace was such a sex pig?
On a trip to Vegas a few years back, my friend, Tracey, and I cabbed out to the desert to visit the city's cultural conservatory, the Liberace Museum (now closed), to see the opulence and sheer, unashamed excess of the man's cars, coats, jewelry. Yet, not a cock ring in sight! The recreation of Liberace's Vegas bedroom was visited. The room smelled, oddly, as if Lee's body had been buried under the Museum's floorboards. Ah, the aroma!
So, yes, something's rotten in the state of Liberaceland. At the Museum, and on HBO. Long live Liberace!