What does it mean when HBO made-for-TV movies are of better quality than those hitting the big screen? It certainly can’t be good for the major motion picture industry. Films like the new HBO film Behind the Candelabra certainly isn’t helping. The recently released film, starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, delivers a fascinating and entertaining biopic about the piano player’s private life.
He spent his career with perfectly coiffed hair and was known for his extravagence both on and off stage. Liberace was an entertainer before all things and the piano virtuoso went big with everything he did. Behind the Candelabra explores the entertainer’s private life, specifically his long-term relationship with Scott Thorson.
Although the film seems almost comical in times as it tries to portray the over-the-top lifestyle of Liberace and Thorson — just take a look at the make-up job Rob Lowe was given to portray the couple’s plastic surgeon — it all kind of makes sense. Both Douglas and Damon commit fully to their respective roles. There is never a feeling of them copping out due to the controversial material. Damon shows plenty of rear nudity. Too much, really.
While I actually heard complaints that the film showed too much same-sex romance, it is a criticism that is simply unfounded. Behind the Candelabra is a well made, well acted bio pic. Is everything true? Probably not. But it made for an interesting look at a famous man that we know so little about. For a made-for-TV movie, Behind the Candelabra is practically indulgent — and it brings the art of film on the small screen to a new level.