Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (United Kingdom)
March 8th at Silvercity
6:30pm & 8:30pm
Director: Paul McGuigan
Cast: Jamie Bell, Annette Bening, Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Walters
Runtime: 105 minutes
Hollywood Film Awards: New Hollywood Award, Jamie Bell; British Independent
Film Awards Nominations: Best Supporting Actress, Casting, Production Design, Actor (Jamie Bell); San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards, Nomination: Best Actress (Annette Bening)
“The acting is wonderful, with Annette Bening outstanding as the vain, deluded and not always likeable actress, and Bell at last finding a period and part that really suit him as an adult actor.”—Matthew Bond, The Mail on Sunday, (UK)
Annette Bening makes this story of Gloria Grahame’s last days a must-see. As the faded movie star now in her late 50s, with a penchant for much younger men – in this case 20-something Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) whose memoir serves as source material– she is mercurial, sexy and always riveting.
The film opens with Grahame getting ready to go onstage at a theatre outside Liverpool only to collapse in her living room. Then the scene shifts to Turner’s Liverpool home where he hears of her illness and then flashes back to how they originally met and began their affair. Given that their initial connection is so strong – their first dance together is wonderful (remember, Bell danced as Billy Elliott) – we’re drawn into the mystery of what went wrong between them.
It’s basically a two-handed chamber drama, goosed occasionally by appearances from Peter’s family (Julie Walters plays his mother) and scenes in California and New York, usually set in just one room.
Bening will get attention for the fact that she forgoes her vanity for the role, but the performance is more than skin deep. She is charming, given to flashes of anger, and pulses with energy. Bell holds his own – which is a feat in itself – and, even though there are some familiar beats here, the movie will get even the biggest cynic teary-eyed.