Behind the Candelabra is fabulous -- so much so that, were it not for the fact that it reveals everything about his private life that he worked so hard to conceal, Liberace himself might well have loved it. The big screen’s loss is HBO’s gain in what is billed as Steven Soderbergh’s farewell to the cinema, at least for the time being. Superbly scripted, brilliantly directed, smart but never smarmy and led by a lead performance by Michael Douglas so good you often forget you’re watching an actor rather than the famous character he’s playing, this is a rarity, a fully realized biographical drama shot through with real feeling and an abundance of sly humor. It’s a winner all around.
Historically speaking, Thorson was just 16 when he met Liberace. Damon convincingly plays the pianist’s young companion from his late teens to mid-20s in the film. Although the actor undeniably delivers an astonishing performance — perhaps the most demanding of his career given the role’s emotional upheaval and physical transformation— the casting represents an opportunity missed, considering the role could potentially have launched a young unknown, the way “Boogie Nights” did the film career of Mark Wahlberg.
Sasha Stone @AwardsDaily
As expected Mixhael Doiglas' best ever work. Matt Damon on Ripley level - just great. #cannes2013
Sasha Stone @AwardsDaily
More applause for Behind the Candelabra than any screening I've seen. #cannes2013
Catherine Bray @catherinebray
Behind The Candelabra is masterclass storytelling. Just genius. Loved it unreservedly. Bravo all involved. A+
David Poland @DavidPoland
Behind The Candelabra is wonderful. The scale is not wrong for HBO, even if studios don’t support cinema over movies enough.
Guy Lodge @GuyLodge3m
Alternately riotous and raw, Soderbergh's BEHIND THE CANDELABRA is the best film in Competition so far.
erickohn @erickohn 1h
CANDELABRA is as fun and well-crafted as expected, but in my estimation the surprise is that it's Damon who does his best acting in years.
From the Guardian's video review - "It takes a wild tale and it makes it human. It glitters within and it ought to win everything."
Anne Thompson at Indiewire:
But by the end, both Douglas and Damon are heartbreaking, and a dowdy Debbie Reynolds resonates as Liberace's clinging, angry, neglected mother. "Everyone wants a piece of me," Liberace complains. "I give and give and give."
There's an undertow to the film's message, Soderbergh has admitted. In another era, Liberace could have married, like Elton John. And in another decade, this movie would be up for Oscars, not Emmys.