A Filmmaker's Review: 'Behind the Candelabra' (2013)
4/5 - Far more entertaining than you think it is
Behind the Candelabra (2013) is one of those films that everyone remembers being released but nobody knows where it went. It's like after its cinema play it kind of dropped off the face of the earth even though it did fairly well at the box office. I can assure you that this film, if you haven't seen it, is a lot more entertaining than you think it is. A mixture of music, comedy, drama and biography - this film tells an incredibly whimsical and slightly off-key tale of the latter part of Liberace's career. It is a visually stunning movie and I think that Liberace himself would've liked it quite a lot. Let's start off with my history with this movie...
First and foremost, I remember when this movie first came out in the cinemas and, being a huge fan of the film industry already - I would always have my eye closely on films I thought were visually stunning or different. This obviously meant that I wanted to see this movie, and I could see it if I wanted - I was 17. The problem wasn't that, the problem was examinations got in the way and my priorities shuffled around, "Behind the Candelabra" (2013) got left out of them unfortunately. By the time I'd finished my examinations, it was out of the cinema. But, in places like Blockbuster and HMV, it was nowhere to be seen. I recognised it when it popped up when Amazon opened its streaming service and I remember watching it about halfway through - but after that I didn't watch it again until I rented it recently from that very same site. I watched it all last night and, after waiting patiently for over five years, I can honestly say it was worth the wait. The movie is brilliantly made, visually incredible and the subject was obviously worth making a feature length movie about - I mean can you think of a better person to make a visually stunning movie about than Liberace? I didn't think so.
Now, the acting in the film I can honestly say was incredible. Michael Douglas as Liberace is pretty uncanny, don't you think? It was like actually watching Liberace and the first real time I've seen Michael Douglas do any kind of eccentric comedic role at all. To me, he's always been Gordon Gekko, but in this film he was definitely Liberace. It made me very happy to see him act in a different role and in something that wasn't his usual request of a film. As for Matt Damon, he was pretty brilliant as well. Now, I know the actual story between Scott and Liberace and I can really say that it was not only pretty accurate but they actually looked and behaved like the characters they were portraying. It was really great and really entertaining to watch, you seriously have no idea until you've seen it.
I really enjoyed the watching experience of this film because it really does feel like a 'behind the scenes' life of Liberace rather than what someone thought it may have looked like. It feels incredibly realistic and I think that really is the selling point of the film. It is based on an autobiographical novel by Scott who once worked for Liberace and therefore, is completely true in most ways (seeing as I still question whether Liberace told Scott to get cosmetic surgery or whether Scott just got it himself, I don't think Liberace would've told him to - it seems slightly absurd to me). The comedic feel of the film really added to the dazzling aura that always surrounded Liberace during his lifetime. I thought it was a film that was amazingly made.
Let's sum up what we've looked at:
- How I didn't get to see the film for ages even though I knew it was out. When I did watch it, I felt like I'd had so much patience and the film really did live up to expectations
- How the acting was incredible and Michael Douglas as Liberace was pretty uncanny to be honest
- The way in which the film portrays the story as realistic. It is very realistic and for that, it makes for a perfect biopic
Personally, I would like to see this film in the national registry for culturally significant films soon. It is a wonderful attempt to shine a light on Liberace's crazy and eccentric lifestyle and, not only his music is involved, but his personal life is there too. It is truly a movie which is far more entertaining than you think it is.