Life With Liberace

Michael Douglas in Behind the Candelabra (2013)

When Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) met Bob Black (Scott Bakula) it lead to him ending up in Vegas and being introduced to Liberace (Michael Douglas). Before he knows it Scott is being seduced by the showman and moving in to his palatial home as his lover who he refers to as his Adonis. Despite some rocky patches as Scott struggles with becoming a kept man they end up staying together with Scott even having cosmetic surgery through Dr. Jack Startz (Rob Lowe). But when Scott has enough Liberace takes a new lover and kicks Scott out despite them both still caring for each other. But it leads to Scott doing the unthinkable and taking Liberace to court for what he has lost, laying bare the truth about Liberace's life in the process.

I have little recollection of ever seeing Liberace perform on TV; I know I did as a child sometime in the early 80s because Liberace was such a showman that when you saw him once you would never forget it. Now what has always amazed me was there were those who never suspected that he was gay and thought his flamboyance on the stage was simply an act. The thing is that the made for TV biopic "Behind the Candelabra" isn't a movie about his sexual tendencies but about Scott Thorson and his relationship with Liberace.

Matt Damon in Behind the Candelabra (2013)

Now "Behind the Candelabra" is a really easy movie to follow as it starts with Liberace meeting and falling for the much younger Scott, pushing out his current lover to move Scott in. We then see how their relationship evolves from being lovers to Scott becoming a kept man and Liberace's play thing before he has enough and becomes the man that Liberace leaves for a younger model. Along the way we get some glimpses into the life of Liberace; the wigs, the facelifts, the excess and much more whilst we also see how the relationship ends up eating away at Scott, turning him into a drug addict in the process. And that is it, it is the journey through a relationship with Liberace littered with some secrets as to his life style.

But it is a fascinating journey through this surreal life of sun, jewellery, drugs and as I keep on saying excess. But at the same time there is a real caring side to this drama, this inner love between two men which despite leading to public hurt never really ended. As such credit should go to Matt Damon and Michael Douglas for making this journey so real giving us the excess, the hurt, the pain and still a deep affection right up until the end. I might not remember much of ever seeing Liberace perform but Douglas certainly captures it whilst Damon gives the role of Scott the naivety required of a young man who gets swept off his feet by the showman and ends up at the end of the relationship seeing how he was when he sees the younger model replacing him.

What this all boils down to is that "Behind the Candelabra" is a fantastic movie and it is an utterly fascinating look at not just the life of Liberace but a tumultuous relationship. Oh and would you believe it "Behind the Candelabra" is a made for TV production and a pretty staggering one at that.

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