Five thoughts about the new Liberace movie
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1. Not much Las Vegas iconography in Behind the Candelabra — Steven Soderbergh’s cinematic adaptation of the tell-all book by Scott Thorson (played here by Matt Damon), who had a five-year relationship with Liberace (Michael Douglas) — which debuted on HBO May 26. Concert scenes were filmed at the showroom at LVH, to approximate Lee’s residency at the Las Vegas Hilton. And one scene at a porn shop looked a lot like the Adult Superstore on Main Street. Looks like the small budget didn’t allow for much recreation of late-’70s/early-’80s Vegas.
2. No straight Hollywood actor has so gleefully taken it in the ass on camera as Michael Douglas, who was clearly game to fully embody the ol’ queen. His overall performance is among his very best; to deny this film a theatrical release is to deny Douglas an Oscar nomination.
3. Anyone else grimace while looking at Rob Lowe, who plays a plastic surgeon who’s been under the knife a few times himself? H.R. Giger couldn’t have sculpted a more horrific face.
4. Yep, this film is gay. But for a studio to say it couldn’t have released a low-budget biopic with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon and made a profit is ridiculous, and speaks volumes about Hollywood’s lingering homophobia.
5. And speaking of homophobia, Behind the Candelabra is not a love story. It’s not about the struggles of a secret romance. It is, at its core, a movie about two self-loathing assholes. Scott was Liberace’s next-in-line boytoy — ultimately wooed by his lover’s wealth — until another came along. He had such little self-respect, he allowed Liberace — himself disgusted by his maturing looks — to talk Scott into plastic surgery that mirrored his own. The only thing more artificial than their faces was their relationship. Mr. Soderbergh, you’ve done the unthinkable: You’ve made me detest Liberace even more than I already did.