If, like me, you’ve been kept up at night wondering, “What does Scott Bakula look like moustachioed and shirtless?”, the answer is waiting for you in Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra… And the answer is glorious. Liberace is a celebrity I’ve only ever known as a sketch show punch line, so going in, I was more interested in Behind the Candelabra as director Steven Soderbergh’s supposed final film before retiring from the medium, than I was in its subject. Which lead to an awesome surprise… Liberace is an amazingly interesting, tragic and compelling character.
Douglas and Damon are both note perfect in the leading roles, but they’re almost outshone by some of the supporting players. The afore mentioned Bakula is clearing having fun every second he’s on screen and Dan Aykroyd is in form rarely seen these days as Liberace’s manager, that makes you almost forget Blues Brothers 2000… Almost. But the MVP of Behind the Candelabra is, without a doubt Rob Lowe, as the plastic surgeon and distributor of his personally developed and fully pharmacological “California Diet” (patent pending). If I was told Behind the Candelabra 2: The Legend of Liberace’s Gold was in production and consisted of nothing more than Lowe’s stretched face and dead doll’s eyes staring blankly into the distance, I’d be in the cinema opening day.
Will this be Soderbergh’s swan song? For a filmmaker so prolific, he’s had to compete with himself for an Oscar, I’d be very surprised if it turns out that way. But if it is, Behind the Candelabra is an impressive, lavish and more than satisfying end to an eclectic, sometimes brilliant (sometimes, not so brilliant) career. He really has gone out in style. Gouache, tacky, golden jewel encrusted grand piano, over the top style.