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Behind the Candelabra by Steven Soderbergh

December 1, 2013


Behind the Candelabra represents a new chapter of the infinite relationship between cinema and television, here we have a famous director – and former author of blockbusters – who finds himself in economic distress, no one in the film industry wanted to finance this film and if we have an happy end – meaning: we have the film – we need to thank HBO, the pay television channel mainly known for its production of highly cinematic TV series. Soderbergh says Behind the Candelabra will be his last film – because there is no interest anymore in films like the ones he makes – and I am sorry to say that to me he sounds like an American brat who has been spoiled by too much money and success during the first part of his career, just think of a well-known and respected French filmmaker like Jean-Claude Brisseau who had so little money to shoot The Girl from Nowhere that he used his own apartment as its main set, come on mister Soderbergh: show us what you can do shooting your next movie in your villa (or just ask your friends Pitt/Douglas/Damon to borrow one of theirs).


In a way Soderbergh’s story echoes an aspect of Liberace‘s life: a gifted virtuoso who could have made a career as a concert pianist (lot of work, not much glory, even less money) but preferred to dedicate his life and talent to the show business becoming one of the highest-paid entertainers of his time, but this subject does not represent the main focus of Behind the Candelabra. Behind the Candelabra is a Soderbergh film, so the focus – the homosexual love story between Liberace (an extraordinary Michael Douglas) and Scott Thorson (kudos to the makeup department, but Matt Damon is too old to play a sixteen years old) – of the film is only one of the issues explored here, Soiderbergh has always been a multifaceted director: of course the fear of being exposed as a homosexual dominates the film but then we have difference of age between lovers, difference of economic status and the ways they influence and shift the power in a relationship, plastic surgery, in the end Behind the Candelabra brings to the plate everything we can expect from a love story – the passion, the scheming, the betrayal – plus the widespread and very contemporary obsession with perennial youth and the medical ways to obtain it. Soderbergh delivers it all in a spectacular and gorgeous imagery, he gets great performances from every actor (Rob Lowe as Dr. Startz the plastic surgeon deserves a special mention) and – as usual with Soderbergh – the pacing is effective, not even a single boring shot!

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