Liberace was a showman, pianist, homosexual (denied during his lifetime) and the highest paid entertainer in the world during the Sixties and Seventies. Who remembers him now?
Steven Soderbergh’s film is based on Scott Thorson’s book about his six-year relationship with Lee, as Liberace was called by his associates. Scott was 17 when he was seduced into joining Lee’s bizarre entourage as chauffeur, companion, lover and, finally, adopted son.
Hollywood refused to support this project – too gay, apparently – and so the TV channel HBO did the honours, much to their credit. Having Michael Douglas, in remission from throat cancer, and Matt Damon, over the age of 40, as Liberace and Thorson, was a risky decision that paid off tenfold.
Choosing heterosexual movie stars to simulate camp encounters in the bedroom is intriguing enough, but for them to be so convincing was a bonus no-one could predict.
The film suffers from the claustrophobia of all showbiz biopics – when you are so famous you can’t go out, what do you do with yourself all day? – but gains from two memorable performances.
It may be slight; it may be queer; it may be glittery bittery, but it has style, darling – Rob Lowe, as a plastic surgeon, you wouldn’t believe!