Television review: 'Behind the Candelabra' an all-that-glitters caveat

Scott, already unhappy with the confines of their life — they can go nowhere in public — but panicked at the idea of losing it, agrees. During the process, he gets hooked on pills and cocaine and is soon pacing in his cage while Lee watches porn and sates his sexual appetite elsewhere.

Although not quite the high-wire act of depicting Liberace, Damon does a remarkable job with Scott. He deftly captures the quicksilver shifts in motive and desire that underlie any relationship and evokes a drug-fueled breakdown in all its jaw-clenching horror.

"Behind the Candelabra" is not the story of Liberace's life. Soderbergh is clearly captivated, as are we all, by the rot underlying the glitz, but even with Douglas' nuanced performance, the film simplifies too many things.

Some of the time spent chronicling Scott in his white thong or Lee petting his lap dogs might have been used to better flesh out the man who worked two shows a night and three on Sunday. The man who held his own against Johnny Carson and Jack Benny, and who discovered, as he died along with so many men during the AIDS epidemic, that no amount of marble and silk turns a closet into a fortress.

mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

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'Behind the Candelabra'

Where: HBO

When: 9 p.m. Sunday

Rating: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 17)