The highly anticipated first trailer for Behind the Candelabra has arrived.
The made-for-TV biopic stars Michael Douglas as the resolutely flamboyant pianist-singer Wladziu Valentino Liberace — widely known as just Liberace — and Matt Damon who plays his 17-year-old lover Scott Thornson.
After meeting in 1976, the pair sustained an intimate relationship for nearly six years, beginning when Thorson was 16.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Erin Brokovich), much is expected of this progressive look at a famed relationship and a time that was less open than now.
The trailer shows Liberace’s courting of Thorson as he ushers the young man into a life of extravagance, sex, and the temptations of plastic surgery (said surgeon played by a brilliantly taut Rob Lowe.)
As well as showing the couple’s struggle with the then rampant homophobia — Liberace was professionally pressured to conceal his sexuality— Behind The Candelabra will also trace their descent into tabloid acrimony and Liberace’s battle with AIDS-related pneumonia which resulted in his death at the age of 67 in 1987.
Certainly there will be humor in the film, but from the look of the trailer there will also be depth and poignancy.
Reuters reports that, when Douglas spoke at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, California in January, he called Liberace and Thorson’s relationship “a great love story.”
At the same event, Soderbergh spoke of Candelabra’s tortuous journey to the small screen, revealing:
“They [Hollywood studios] said it was too gay. Everybody. This was after Brokeback Mountain, by the way. Which is not as funny as this movie. I was stunned. It made no sense to any of us.”
Keen to allay any concerns Candelabra might be “caricature” piece, the noted helmer added:
“We weren’t giggling about it. These were people’s lives. We wanted to get it right.”
HBO eventually took on the Soderbergh’s labor of love and it will screen on its movie channel on May 26. Speculation that it will also premiere at the Cannes Film Festival has yet to coalesce.
Behind The Candelabra stars Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Rob Lowe, Dan Akroyd, Paul Reiser, and the incomparable Debbie Reynolds.