• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: May 26, 2013
  • Season #: 1
Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Emily Nussbaum
    May 28, 2013
    100
    Behind the Candelabra succeeds precisely because it doesn’t care much about health or what constitutes a good role model--it shows respect for a complicated marriage simply by making it real.
  2. Reviewed by: Joanne Ostrow
    May 28, 2013
    100
    A superbly acted and exquisitely rendered gem.
  3. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    May 24, 2013
    100
    Michael Douglas is astonishing.... Damon is just as good, somehow convincing us that he's far younger than he is in real life and artfully keeping us guessing about Thorson's true motivation as he worms his way into Liberace's life.
  4. 100
    There’s a solid, patient, confident quality to this movie that’s rarely seen in modern mainstream cinema. It’s better than most American films playing in theaters, and better than most of HBO’s films, too.
  5. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    May 24, 2013
    100
    This doesn't feel like a factory product, but a work of individual, beautiful craftsmanship.
  6. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    May 23, 2013
    100
    Beautifully written (by Richard LaGravenese) and directed (by Steven Soderbergh), Behind the Candelabra doesn’t quite fit into the biopic genre--simply because it is so good.
  7. Reviewed by: Mary McNamara
    May 23, 2013
    100
    Once your eyes adjust to the bedazzled opulence of Liberace's life in '70s and '80s Las Vegas, Behind the Candelabra becomes a darkly moving and provocative look at two lonely men who briefly found something like love before the maelstrom of fame, money and drugs, all churning within the confines of the sexual closet, blew it apart.
  8. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    May 22, 2013
    100
    Superbly scripted, brilliantly directed, smart but never smarmy and led by a lead performance by Michael Douglas so good you often forget you’re watching an actor rather than the famous character he’s playing, this is a rarity, a fully realized biographical drama shot through with real feeling and an abundance of sly humor.
  9. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    May 22, 2013
    100
    Looking Music Hall-size glamorous on the big screen, Behind the Candelabra is a TV movie only in its sage, nuanced and closeup concentration on the emotional tensions that bind two people, then break them apart.
  10. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    May 22, 2013
    100
    Everything is pushed right to the edge, and that it doesn't topple over in a flaming heap is tribute to a pair of brilliant performances--though Damon's is first among equals--and an absorbing production that is morbidly fascinating from start to finish.
  11. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    May 16, 2013
    100
    Director Steven Soderbergh's Candelabra is one of the smartest, tartest examples I've ever seen of that soupy genre, the Hollywood biopic. [27 May 2013, p.39]
  12. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    May 28, 2013
    88
    Behind the Candelabra is powerful, funny, and emotionally rigorous, and though it might act as a fiery and forceful resignation, in conjunction with Side Effects, it also serves as an uncommonly heartfelt Dear John letter.
  13. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    May 23, 2013
    88
    Buffed to a typical HBO high gloss, Candelabra is a visual feast. But it shines brightest in those moments where it captures the rhythms of a relationship in its first blush of affection and its seemingly inevitable collapse.
  14. Reviewed by: Lori Rackl
    May 22, 2013
    88
    Half the fun of Behind the Candelabra is watching these two Hollywood heavyweights deftly tackle roles that could have been career-enders not that long ago.
  15. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    May 24, 2013
    83
    Douglas, Damon and company put on a crowd-pleaser that even Liberace couldn’t top during all those many-splendored stage performances. A film that could have been so very bad turns out to be pretty mah-velous.
  16. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    May 23, 2013
    83
    If the script can at times seem slight, Douglas and Damon are 
superb.
  17. Reviewed by: Richard Porton
    May 30, 2013
    80
    In other hands, this scenario might have degenerated into a caricature-filled freak show. The fact that it doesn’t is attributable to Soderbergh’s relatively restrained direction and Douglas's and Damon’s intelligently modulated performances.
  18. Reviewed by: Bruce Miller
    May 29, 2013
    80
    Director Steven Soderbergh walks a tightrope between camp and class and, if you make it that far, pulls it off.
  19. Reviewed by: Geoff Berkshire
    May 28, 2013
    80
    Yet as inspired as the performances are and as fully realized as the world is, traces of Soderbergh's recent weaknesses remain. For all the insight into Liberace's private life, there's very little insight into the man himself.
  20. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    May 24, 2013
    80
    Terrific performances make it a movie worth seeing.
  21. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    May 24, 2013
    80
    No one saves face in director Steven Soderbergh's ghoulishly entertaining, opulently produced Behind the Candelabra, HBO's grandest, gaudiest and most fascinating movie in quite a long while.
  22. Reviewed by: Nancy DeWolf Smith
    May 23, 2013
    80
    Behind the Candelabra, a snapshot from the last decade of the pianist and showman Liberace, is sublimely entertaining.
  23. Reviewed by: Linda Stasi
    May 21, 2013
    75
    What’s right with this movie are the performances.
  24. Reviewed by: Willa Paskin
    May 22, 2013
    70
    It’s like all the ingredients for a sugar rush of a dessert have been assembled and instead mixed together to make something surprisingly sensible, but not exactly delicious.
  25. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    May 22, 2013
    70
    Douglas brings real dimension to the role, exploring the difference between the pianist’s on- and offstage personas, grappling with the effects of age on an entertainer and trying to reconcile Liberace’s pattern of attraction to young men with what the pic paints as genuinely paternal feelings. Though its two-hour running time has a tendency to feel like three.
  26. Reviewed by: Melissa Maerz
    May 22, 2013
    67
    A glossy story of love gone wrong and then (slightly) redeemed at the end, without a whole lot of deep pathos in between.
  27. Reviewed by: Tom Long
    May 23, 2013
    58
    Behind the Candelabra doesn't really get behind anything; it just rolls around in tacky history.
  28. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    May 24, 2013
    50
    While Mr. Douglas glides through the film--demonstrating that his talent for portraying carnivorous lechery and polished duplicity works regardless of sexual orientation--and Mr. Damon is earnest and committed, the love, or whatever it was, between Thorson and Liberace never comes into emotional focus.
  29. Reviewed by: Sara Smith
    May 23, 2013
    50
    Behind the Candelabra isn’t a smear job, but it’s not a revelation, either.
  30. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    May 24, 2013
    30
    Behind the Candelabra is one long downward spiral, a gratuitous tale of a man who drowns in his own opulent acts of denial.
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 64 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 19
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 19
  3. Negative: 1 out of 19
  1. May 27, 2013
    10
    I adored this film. I saw Liberace on TV in the 1950s when I was a teenager and couldn't figure out what the fuss was about. Why would anyone, especially woman, find this mincing drag queen a heartthrob. (I loved Elvis). All the massively crazy glitz was considered low class and trashy at the time--the word camp hadn't yet been invented and homosexuality was still considered a perversion. How times have changed--thank God. Douglas and Damon turn what could have been a travesty into a treasure. Douglas' performance portraying a man who was a joke in his own time into a flesh and blood tragic figure is brilliant. He skates a very fine line between caricature and flesh and blood, never missing a beat. Damon is equally incredible. He turns a stereotypical pretty boy who seemingly just wants Liberace's money and reflected glory, into a tragic figure in his own right. Yes, he wants to take Liberace's money, but he also wants to be loved by him. Rob Lowe as the plastic surgeon is hysterical, and so is Debbie Reynolds as Liberace's mother. A great biopic is almost impossible to make, especially about someone as ridiculous as Liberace but Soderbergh has managed. The graphic sex scenes reveal character and aren't thrown in just for prurient interest. Bravo to HBO for taking this on. Yet another example of their support of great, if controversial, film. Full Review »
  2. Jun 2, 2013
    10
    This is an epic movie. I didn't know what to expect and was curious because of the reviews i have read. And then.. it blew me away, it took me completey by surprise. Michael Douglas and Matt Damon deserve every award of this planet for their performance, i cannot praise this enough. Also stellar was the direction, costume, make up, art direction. Seriously one of the best movies in tv-history. Chapeau!! Full Review »
  3. Sep 20, 2013
    0
    I like Matt Damon, but hes not good enough for me to finish this movie for.I randomly chose this on Demand, and had to bail fast. The Relationships between the male characters was unbearable. Full Review »