The drama! The glitter! The backstabbing! The bitchiness! The downward spirals! And the outfits!
Behind The Candelabra bowed on HBO this weekend, and my oh my, it’s hard to think of a more fabulous movie that ever was. From Michael Douglas’ brave and astonishing performance as Liberace to Matt Damon’s stunning sex appeal to Rob Lowe creeping us out as a reminder of Michael Jackson’s worst attributes, Steven Soderbergh’s biopic was one seriously epic slice of over-the-top gayness, a trashy guilty pleasure and an expertly made film rolled into one.
We expect it to win all the Emmys when September rolls around. Yes ― all of them.
In celebration, we’ve rounded up a few of the most fabulous aspects of this movie (since it would be impossible to round them all up).
1. It's so shiny!
We are reasonably sure that no movie has ever had more glitter or sequins, or been overall so shiny. You practically need sunglasses to watch.
2. Matt Damon looks like this.
Hellooo, Matt Damon! We've always thought Matt was an attractive guy, but the body he displayed in this movie (playing a 17 year old to begin with, even though he's 42) had us seeing him in a completely new light. It's like they went back in time to film this movie...
3. ...But sometimes, he looks like this.
Jason Bourne, is that you in there? After Matt's character Scott has some plastic surgery and develops a nasty drug habit, there's less Matt Damon hotness and more Matt Damon notness. Credit Matt for playing both the wide-eyed hunky ingenue and the strung-out has-been with equal skill.
4. The sets!
Has there ever been a house so over-the-top and tacky as Liberace's in this movie? The place is dripping with gold and gaudy covers absolutely every inch. We're both jealous of the enormous wealth on display and repulsed by the lack of good taste. Which kind of sums up our feelings on Liberace himself...
5. The plastic surgery!
Not knowing all that much about Liberace going into this film, we were surprised by how much of a spotlight it cast on his obsession with plastic surgery. Not only does Liberace get a face lift that makes it impossible to fully close his eyes, but he also has his boyfriend's face transformed to look more like himself. The whole thing is icky but also feels just about right in the way it depicts the extreme vanity of certain celebrities.
6. Umm... Rob Lowe?
First we saw Matt Damon as a strapping young gay man, and we were like, "Whoa." Then we saw Michael Douglas as the super-fabulous Liberace and we were like, "Wow!" But then we saw Rob Lowe as Liberace's "doctor" and we were like, "What?!?" It's hard to be a scene-stealer in a movie like this, but it sure was hard to look away from Rob's irresponsible plastic surgeon character, who gets Matt Damon hooked on diet pills. Not only did Behind The Candelabra resurrect Liberace, it also seems to have unearthed Michael Jackson...
7. It's not afraid to be gay. (Like, super gay.)
A lot of movies featuring gay characters that are aimed at a mainstream audience shy away from giving us too much actual homosexuality on display. Not this one! There's gay in just about every frame of this movie, from the believable nature of Liberace and Scott's relationship (with neither Michael Douglas nor Matt Damon holding back at all) to all the over-the-top fabulousness of Liberace's shows and personal life.
8. It's not afraid to be mean.
The Liberace biopic could have played it safe and depicted an easier-to-swallow version of Liberace's lifestyle. With gay marriage in the news so often, we can imagine a version of this that's much more PC. But Behind The Candelabra goes for the jugular with all the cattiness and backstabbing and sleeping around that allegedly happened, which is refreshingly frank and adult (and not ultimately that enviable). No one comes across as totally likable here, though we do feel some sympathy for them in the end.
If we haven't properly sold you on Matt Damon looking mighty fine for a certain section of this movie, perhaps a GIF will help.
10. Liberace's shrine to his mother.
Yes, Liberace has a shrine to his mom. There never has been and never will be anything gayer than this.
11. This is Dan Akroyd.
The former Ghostbuster has a fairly small role, but like all roles here, it comes complete with a nifty makeover.
12. This is Debbie Reynolds?
In a movie that transforms so many actors into fabulous gay versions of themselves, Behind The Candelabra did the opposite to the usually-fabulous Debbie and made her dowdy and unrecognizable as Liberace's no-nonsense Polish mom.
12. Matt Damon, smoking like he invented it.
There are so many things wrong with this, and yet, so many things right.
13. The outfits!
It has been obvious for quite some time that, if nothing else, Behind The Candelabra would have a lot of fabulous outfits. It did not disappoint. In addition to Michael Douglas' flamboyant looks, pretty much everyone was decked out in some amazing costumes.
14. This coat, especially.
Many people seriously did not know Liberace was gay. And yet saw him wearing this coat. There is no greater case for the power of denial.
15. The car!
It makes the Batmobile look like absolutely subtle.
That moment where Liberace wants to stop in an adult video store, and a wasted Scott goes looking for him, spontaneously throws up, and then sits down right next to it in a very expensive coat? So trashy. So wonderful.
17. Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas has been great in many movies, but he's usually playing a version of his cool, slick upper-crust self. We've rarely seen him give such a performance. If the man doesn't get an Emmy for this, we'll be pretty astounded, since it's some of the best work he's done. He really lets himself go... and is he really playing that piano? Astounding!
What was your favorite over-the-top aspect of Behind The Candelabra?