Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon) has had a difficult childhood. Raised by foster parents in Wisconsin, he is now enjoying his great life, out and about in Los Angeles with his friend Bob (by Scott Bakula) – they attend one of Liberace’s famous shows. Bob knows Liberace’s Manager, Seymour Heller (by Dan Akroyd) and they have been offered a backstage pass to enjoy the after-show party. Seymour takes them “behind the scenes” to meet the great performer. Scott is overawed by the opulence and luxury of the dressing room and the lifestyle. Once Liberace (by Michael Douglas) sets eyes on Scott, he is smitten and a relationship between the two develops. Liberace takes Scott to dinner, to his home and into his life – Scott becomes Liberace’s assistant, then his live in companion, then his lover. Liberace bestows all manner of affection, gifts and attention on Scott and their life becomes full of all the luxurious trappings that wealth brings. However, the relationship does have its challenges too and the couple deal with the ups and downs of this, as any couple does. This is the dramatization of the five year relationship between the two during those heady Las Vegas times.
This is an enjoyable movie. Michael Douglas absolutely inhabits the persona of the great performer Liberace and he is marvellous – believable and authentic here. His on-screen relationship with Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) is great – they are good together. The chemistry is not forced and they have done well for two actors new to this type of role. Their “campness” is necessary for this story and it is believable. Their emotions are as real as any couple you might watch on screen as they journey through the tumultuous relationship that features the heights of passion along with the depths of jealousy, betrayal and bitterness. There are some great performances by others here too, Dan Akroyd’s Seymour Heller is really good – but best of all is the fabulously entertaining performance by Rob Lowe as Dr Jack Startz, Liberace’s doctor and plastic surgeon – that’s a true classic, well cast and very well done. Yes, Liberace had as many talents as faults – a great performer and a true narcissist, but he was a man just like any other and it’s shown well in this movie. I note that Debbie Reynolds plays Liberace’s mother in this movie, but I didn’t recognise her. Michael Douglas is sensational and he truly deserves the Emmy Award he recently received for this work. This is based on the biography “Behind the Candelabra, My Life with Liberace” by Scott Thorton.
Made in 2013. Directed by Steven Soderbergh