Arts + Music » Arts + Culture

Behind the Candelabra

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (HBO)

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Though it opened in cinemas in Europe, Hollywood’s fear of marketing a “gay” movie meant Soderbergh’s film was first delivered to a cable TV audience on HBO. A biopic of famed Las Vegas entertainer Liberace---Lee to his friends---the temptation to make him and his lifestyle seem fabulous must have been huge. Soderbergh resists. Not to say we don’t get an eyeful of Liberace’s opulent tastes, but they’re neither celebrated nor judged. Douglas plays Lee with flourish and charisma that hides a lonely, sometimes paranoid man. He could be loving and generous, but was incredibly vain, too. Matt Damon is his much younger companion, Scott Thorson, who is swept into Lee’s life and becomes his live-in boyfriend and personal assistant, on stage and off. A sad but compelling showbiz story, with great performances all around.

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