Behind the Candelabra is a biopic about Liberace. He is the offspring of humble immigrant parents, which is a surprise because most people know him for his extravagant lifestyle. He manages to achieve his American dream and be the celebrity he also thought he could be.
Steven Soderbergh claims that Behind the Candelabra will be his final movie. It is made for HBO network because no other Hollywood studio dared to gamble on a film that shows the subject’s private life with such openness.
This resulted in the very odd situation of having Behind the Candelabra debut in competition at the Cannes film festival and released in theaters across Europe. Then it will have its US premiere on TV via HBO. This is the reason why it appears as the last feature in Soderbergh’s filmography in Europe but not in the United States.
The candelabra that has been part of Liberace’s grand pianos were inspired by the ones in the 1940s movie A Song to Remember that featured Cornel Wilde as Chopin and Merle Oberon as George Sand. Behind the Candelabra is a love story between the famous Liberace and Scott Thorson. It is based on the latter’s published memoir.
Behind the Candelabra shows a young Scott, played by Matt Damon, as an animal wrangler for TV commercials. His dream is to be a veterinarian. In 1977, he is picked up in a gay bar by Liberace (Michael Douglas), a man older than him.
Douglas is brilliant as the worldly performer. He wows the viewers as much as Liberace used to amaze his audiences during his prime.
Soderbergh and screenwriter Richard LaGravenese adore and admire Liberace. They made Behind the Candelabra a touching movie that shows the colorful performer having courage even though he thought he has taken the secret of his homosexuality to his deathbed.