HBO Films ‘BEHIND THE CANDELABRA’ has had a funny old life. Originally meant to be a film to be released in cinemas in the US, no Studio would touch it for distribution deeming it ‘’too Gay’’. Telling the story of the Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his gay lover of Scott Dawson (Matt Damon), the film found independent cinema distribution for cinematic release in separate independent territories at the Cannes Film Festival (in the UK Entertainment One distributed the film), while it was shown on HBO in the US and some select territories. With this being released in cinemas in the UK this can be seen (over here at least) as Steven Soderbergh’s last film (over the brilliance of ‘Side Effects’).
With this film you do get a very candid account of a homosexual relationship. It is very confident in its sexuality and the way it presents it on screen. To be honest it is also a far interesting one of that of ‘Brokeback Mountain’ as it not only presents the moral dilemma of the relationship being about public perception, but also about the price of fame and jealously which is not usually seen. Michael Douglas does a great Liberace, I can imagine in gay culture him becoming a cult icon for his performance here and Matt Damon provides solid support. Along with a lot of the (strangely very high brow) very funny humour, there is Rob Lowe as a plastic surgeon who steels the short time he is in. Generally speaking Soderbergh’s direction has his trademarks and the use of RED Cam makes a unique colour palate along with the lights and vibrancy of the Vegas shows seen here. While it is confident and competent with its issues, it is a film some might not like. But if you are a Soderbergh fan then this is something which will complement the rest of his work. Good stuff and deserving of its cinematic release.