Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Behind the Candelabra (2013)- The best TV movie in a long time. (3½ Stars)

Right now, HBO Films has been incredible to me as a viewer. I thought 2005's highly underrated Sometimes in April was exhilarating, and Gus Van Sant's Elephant  was great. So at this point in the year, I have finally found a film worthy to be called the year's best: Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra.

The film charts a five-year relationship between acclaimed (and flamboyant) pianist Liberace and his young lover Scott Thorson (a bisexual). The film is extremely stylish (like Liberace himself), but Soderbergh succeeds in stuffing the film with high amounts of substance.

Michael Douglas is simply dazzling as Liberace. He succeeds in being funny and serious. It's interesting to see Gordon Gekko be Liberace without being hilariously over-the-top. He is guaranteed an Emmy, since this movie premiered on HBO. Matt Damon is a good middle-man to Douglas' Liberace, and Rob Lowe steals some scenes as a persistent plastic surgeon.

Since the film was produced by HBO, it actually did not receive a United States theatrical release. Which is truly unfortunate, since the film would have been 100% worthy of Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Screenplay nominations.

Any quibbles I have with the film involves the second half, with certain scenes containing jarring tonal shifts in the relationship between Douglas and Damon. The shaky-cam in the second half is also a unique change of pace (not necessarily for the better), as the first half is smooth in its cinematography. Whatever, just minor quibbles.

As this is supposedly the last film of Steven Soderbergh's career, I can say happily that his exit was a graceful one. He has left a legacy of films to be admired, and this film is most definitely a great note to leave off on.

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