Behind the Candelabra
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh Starring: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Rob Lowe Rating: Not Rated Release Date: May 26, 2013 (HBO 9PM/8c)
Trailer Score: 8/10
Thoughts by TSR: The real takeaway from most recent HBO films seems to be the performances. Al Pacino in his pair of murderer biopics, Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock, Claire Danes winning all the awards for Temple Grandin, and Julianne Moore as you-know-who in Game Change were what most talked about. A distinct directorial style tends to be an afterthought. Well, we should have expected that to change when Steven Soderbergh stepped up and took his Liberace film to HBO. Sure, Michael Douglas as the flamboyant showman is a standout, but this trailer is distinctly Soderbergh. And that's a very good thing.
Soderbergh is one of my favorite directors, so any time he has a new film coming out it's a big deal. This is no exception, and not just because it may very well be his last before his much discussed retirement/hiatus. The twisty Side Effects was a stellar way to send off his theatrical career, and Behind the Candelabra looks to be a funny, romantic, dramatic, glitzy, and stylish way to go out entirely. I imagine, like Moore before him, Douglas is the one who will get the bulk of the accolades. This trailer gives me no reason to argue with that, but Matt Damon is who I'm most impressed by in these 100 seconds. Seeing him in the fabulous driver outfit is fantastic, as is his asking, "As what?" when Liberace suggests he should work for him. Later, though, there's a desperation when he responds, "So we can be family," after being asked why a grown man would want to adopt a grown man. Damon is one of our best, most reliable actors, and his performance as Liberace's lover should be no exception.
I wish Soderbergh would continue making movies forever. If he truly is going to step away, at least he's going out on a run that includes Contagion, Haywire, Magic Mike, and Side Effects. I rarely get actively excited for HBO films, but I can't wait to see Behind the Candelabra. I fully expect it to be another excellent effort from an excellent director.