On the eve of retirement a middle class, judgmental snob discovers her husband has been having an affair with her best friend and is forced into exile with her bohemian sister who lives on an impoverished inner-city council estate.
Real life proves just as dramatic off-screen as it does on it for these two actors, the aging Hollywood superstar Gloria Grahame and her younger lover, Peter Turner. As their mismatched romance waxes and wanes over time, events conspire to keep them in each other's lives even when it proves difficult and demanding. Ultimately, they find that they must each come to terms with whatever fate they face in the future whether they are together or apart.Written by
"Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool" (2017 release; 107 min.) is a movie about the last years in the life of actress Gloria Grahame. As the movie opens (and Elton John's "Song For Guy" plays in the background), we are told it's "Liverpool, England, 1981" and we see Gloria applying make-up and getting ready for a theater performance. But she falls ill. She reaches out to Peter Turner in nearby Liverpool and asks if she can come stay at his mum's house. Peter agrees. We then go back in time to "Primrose Hill, London, 1979", and we see Peter running into Gloria for the first time. At this point we are 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is latest from Scottish director Paul McGuigan, best known for "Victor Frankenstein". Here he brings the real life memoir of Peter Turner to the big screen. Turner met faded film star in the late 70s when he was 28 and she was twice that age. i shan't say more (biting my lips). Let's be very clear about one thing: leading actress Annette Bening is absolutely fantastic in this movie. You might think that, having been criminally overlooked in last year's Oscar nominations for he outstanding work in "20th Century Women", the Academy would be a bit more careful this time around. But no. Bening is once again robbed by the Academy, which instead once again lazily gave another nomination to Meryl Streep for her ok (but by no means outstanding) work in the very medicore "The Post" (an "All President's Men" wanna-be that is nowhere close to that gold standard). Jamie Bell is equally up to the task, but has nowhere near the stature or screen presence of Bening. Vanessa Redgrave appear in one scene. The movie's set production (recreating the late 70s/early 80s) is immaculate. Last but not least there is a lot f great music in the film, both as to the score and the song placements.
"Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool" has been gradually expanding over the last 2 months, and it finally opened last weekend at my local art house theater here in Cincinnati. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended okay (about 15 people or so). Other than the very basic premise of an older woman's relationship with a younger guy, I knew nothing about the movie beforehand, and I ended up enjoying this quite a bit more than I had expected. But it the end, this film is really about Annette Bening's outstanding performance, and that alone is worth checking this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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