This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad
Too much of a good thing is wonderful."
That was a signature catchphrase of Liberace, the classical pianist who became a household name as a flamboyant nightclub entertainer. Liberace was born Vladziu Valentino Liberace but known by "Walter" or "Lee" to his intimates -- even the names were too many… too much! He didn't just popularize the catchphrase but lived it maintaining his most unlikely monster career for roughly four decades -- which is, what, a century in showbiz years?
The new biopic BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, premiering tonight on HBO, is smart enough to adopt it as tagline. But is it too much? Is it wonderful? Hollywood studios thought so, at least in regards to the first question. Director Steven Soderbergh hasn't been shy about telling the press that the story was too gay for the movie studios and while we can't know the ins and outs of how true this is or to what extent he tried to make it happen as a theatrical feature before going to television, it sounds trueish. Hollywood has been curiously reluctant to relive the mainstream success of Brokeback Mountain (a major hit grossing nearly $100 million in domestic release) even though they're usually downright shameless about cashing in on any success with quick imitation.
But bless Soderbergh for pushing it forward even if he's a weird fit for the material...