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  • Series Premiere Date: May 26, 2013
  • Season #: 1
Behind the Candelabra Image

Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics What's this?

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 69 Ratings

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  • Summary: The life of the Las Vegas showman Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his younger lover Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) is depicted in this biopic directed by Steven Soderbergh.
  • Genre(s): Drama, Movie/Mini-Series
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Mary McNamara
    May 23, 2013
    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.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Emily Nussbaum
    May 28, 2013
    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.
  4. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    May 23, 2013
    If the script can at times seem slight, Douglas and Damon are 
  5. Reviewed by: Geoff Berkshire
    May 28, 2013
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Nancy DeWolf Smith
    May 23, 2013
    Behind the Candelabra, a snapshot from the last decade of the pianist and showman Liberace, is sublimely entertaining.
  7. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    May 24, 2013
    Behind the Candelabra is one long downward spiral, a gratuitous tale of a man who drowns in his own opulent acts of denial.

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 20
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 20
  3. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. May 27, 2013
    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. Expand
  2. Jun 8, 2013
    This, a candidate for the best picture of the year, is not even getting a cinema release in the U.S. as its subject matter was considered too gay for mass consumption. This is not only a shame for potential audiences who will miss out, but also denies stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon from getting the Oscar nominations they so richly deserve. Emmys and Golden Globes will surely compensate. Douglas, an actor who I have always found to be too serious in his roles seems to be relishing his part here as the flamboyant entertainer Liberace without ever making him into a caricature. He somehow seems to embody the spirit of the late entertainer whilst not being a carbon copy. Damon, likewise, demonstrates his best in the more demanding role of Scott Thorson who for a number of years was the entertainer's live in lover. His transformation from Naive teenager to jealous boyfriend is expertly handled, but could so easily have been overplayed. Other performances are all good and I didn't recognize Debbie Reynolds as Liberace's mother. Rob Lowe is just fabulous.
    Based on Thorson's book the screenplay is free flowing and as delivered by this perfect cast is delicious to savour. Steven Soderbergh applies the right techniques and camera shots to splendid effect in every scene which is also an Art-Director's dream. Soderbergh's retirement from the industry will be a big loss. With this film and 'Side Effects' earlier in the year he at least goes out on a high.
    Make-up is also very good in key scenes. The film is simply not to be missed, so thank god for HBO for giving us this little gem.
  3. Jun 11, 2013
    Michael Douglas nailed it. Blown away by his performance. Once again HBO takes a story that sounds quite dull and turns it into something epic. Possible one of the greatest tv films I have ever seen. Expand
  4. Nov 5, 2013
    I was completely hypnotized by the wonderful performances of Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. Mr. Douglas deserved to be awarded for this. The costumes, make up, and art direction are highly successful in capturing the extravagance in which Liberace lived his life. Another brilliant (although sad) movie from director Steven Soderbergh, a biopic that displays a romance from its beginning to its inevitable end. Expand
  5. Jun 15, 2013
    Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are revelations here, giving two of their best performances ever. Both actors deserve Emmy Awards for these performances. Bravo to all involved. Expand
  6. Dec 23, 2013
    A well-acted and well-crafted film that is as funny as it is serious. Michael Douglas is terrific. I didn't think he had this sort of range. The supporting cast, notably Matt Damon, are good as well. Expand
  7. Sep 20, 2013
    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. Expand

See all 20 User Reviews

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