Behind the Candelabra (2013)

Behind the Candelabra (2013)
  • Time: 118 min
  • Genre: Biography | Drama | Romance
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Rob Lowe


Scott Thorson, a young bisexual man raised in foster homes, is introduced to flamboyant entertainment giant Liberace and quickly finds himself in a romantic relationship with the legendary pianist. Swaddled in wealth and excess, Scott and Liberace have a long affair, one that eventually Scott begins to find suffocating. Kept away from the outside world by the flashily effeminate yet deeply closeted Liberace, and submitting to extreme makeovers and even plastic surgery at the behest of his lover, Scott eventually rebels. When Liberace finds himself a new lover, Scott is tossed on the street. He then seeks legal redress for what he feels he has lost. But throughout, the bond between the young man and the star never completely tears.


  • I just watched this movie and I felt immediately compelled to write a review. Michael Douglas carries the movie amazingly well. I have seen him in many movies but after seeing him playing Liberace tonight I have only respect for him. Matt Damon did a good job too but certainly not near as great as the job Douglas did. I am amazed that no studio wanted to do this movie. I liked Brokeback Mountain but I never connected with the gay relationship it portrayed. Here, the relationship feels sincere, much more natural. Douglas never looks like a caricature, a path that could have been easily to go for, He looks like a real person (I never saw Liberace perform). Great job Mr. Douglas, you have won a fan!

  • From the very beginning of the film I knew this was going to be a rock solid drama. The trailer is completely accurately gives you a sneak peak into a great film that has all you want; believable acting, costumes, setting, musical performance and surprisingly comedy.

    There are sex scenes to those you might be ambiguous about seeing this movie. They are quite tolerable as you don’t see any penetration or anything too vulgar. There is one scene with Matt Damon onto top of Michael Douglas that is quick and not graphic. Most of the sex is discussed or occurs of screen.

    Mostly surprisingly as I mentioned before is the comedy element. It is not obvious if it was intentional or a result of us now knowing what these well dressed men were up to. Either way Rob Lowe’s stiff facial expressions are poignantly funny.

    If you have any interest in seeing this film I highly recommend that you do see it. Films like these don’t come along that often; it gives shows us Liberace’s lifestyle, his showmanship, the nature of gay relationships in the 70’s & 80’s, and has a respectfully emotional ending.

  • Although it seemed that Steven Soderbergh would retire from film-making after finishing this year’s Side Effects, he made another movie, Behind the Candelabra, and then stated he would just take a sabbatical. He might be just indecisive or he might be fooling us and doing it for the publicity, but after watching his last two movies I have to say it would be a shame to lose such an interesting and good director – and brave, I would add, since Behind the Candelabra was rejected by Hollywood movie studios because the story was considered “too gay”, so he made it as a TV movie.

    This movie is based on the autobiographical novel ‘Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace’ by Liberace’s former lover Scott Thorson. Thorson (played by Matt Damon) and Liberace (Michael Douglas) met when the former was 17 and the latter 57. They started a sexual relationship and Thorson was also incorporated in Liberace’s Las Vegas shows. He underwent plastic surgery to look more like Liberace, at the musician’s request, and lived at his expenses. Their five-year relationship started to fall apart because of Liberace’s promiscuity and Thorson’s drug addiction.

    Behind the Candelabra is not just a simple biographic movie. It focuses mainly on the characters’ relationship and growth as people, so it could be said that not much happens. Most of the scenes are shot indoors, and no character apart from Liberace and Thorson is really relevant. Thorson’s evolution keeps the story going: in the beginning he’s a healthy young man who wants to be a veterinarian, and then we watch him disappear, lose himself, becoming unable to control his life or his lover. When he tries to rebel, he is rejected and replaced. Liberace remains the same throughout the movie, but only in the end we realize that – he always grew tired of all his relationships.

    Douglas and Damon both deliver amazing, touching performances. Liberace’s stage costumes, his and Thorson’s outfits and the furniture in their houses are all over the top, but fit Liberace’s persona perfectly, and Thorson’s too, after he becomes sort of a clone of the famous musician. It is a truly great movie, but it might have been better had it concentrated more on Liberace’s career and showman skills. In this version, it risks being seen as just another movie about bad relationships.

    Rating: 8/10

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