Cannes Film Festival 2013: 21st May Reactions Part 1 (‘Behind the Candelabra’, ‘Sarah Prefers to Run’, ‘Weekend of a Champion’)

Steven Soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh

It’s Soderbergh’s last hurrah this morning with HBO film Behind the Candelabra, which screens on US TV screens on the last day of the festival. We’re well into the second week of the festival and as yet, there doesn’t appear to be a clear frontrunner for the Palme D’or. Will the capable hand of Soderbergh steer the critics toward his favour?


Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

“Production design, hair, and makeup are all immaculate. But even with all of the technical elements a cut above, it can’t be denied that this is a TV movie through and through.”

Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

“Surprisingly less tame than one might imagine, Behind the Candlelabra is, also, unexpectedly standard fare when it comes to profiling a personality as grandiose as its central subject.”

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

“The bling is once more in the ring, and the costumes are a delight in themselves; and yet, Soderbergh and Douglas should both be congratulated on managing to achieve on almost perfect tone.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“As a black comedy, and as a portrait of celebrity loneliness, Behind the Candelabra is very stylish and effective, and Damon and Douglas give supremely entertaining performances.”

Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon

“Lucky for HBO, because they have found themselves a real winner and a film that may find itself taking home an award or two from the Cannes Film Festival.”

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

“The real success of the tone that Soderbergh achieves here is that we’re able to laugh at the extremes of Liberace’s life without ignoring the sadder, less obvious elements of his personality. It’s both a romp and uncomfortably real.”

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

“Along with Side Effects, which he claimed would be his last studio film, Behind The Candelabra shows exactly why the industry needs him.”

Adam Cook, MUBI

“I don’t know if any other American filmmaker is more inventive right now with choosing where to place the camera, how to frame the image, how to use focus, etc. Thinking of Candelabra, there are images burned into my brain.”

Peter Debruge, Variety

“As usual, the director operates the camera himself, though his approach takes full advantage of the meticulously re-created world, rather than run-and-gunning it as he has in recent years.”

Jake Howell, Movie City News

“While the nostalgic set pieces and character performances are indelible, the film’s stretched thin to diminishing returns, proving too much of a good thing isn’t all that wonderful—just a little flat.”

Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

“Both hilarious and heartrending too, “Behind The Candelabra” is decadently entertaining, even if its basic rise-and-fall structure is nothing new.”

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

“The subtle sense of subversion that lifts generic material beyond mundane, journeyman hokum is just not there, and while this is certainly a higher class of cinematic biography, it’s still just does its job of hitting all the cosy beats we expect in this type of material.”

Daniel Kasman, MUBI

“I usually feel like Soderbergh is interested in two things, fundamentally: the starting concept of a film, and the challenge of making images day-of, on set. The actual end result of a film is thereby of tertiary importance.”

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

“Much of the film’s blithest humor is used to expose its subject’s deepest social and personal limitations, though its stance is more bemused than vindictive: as well as a touching and tough-minded love story, “Behind the Candelabra” is a sympathetic study of a man defiantly resisting his own significance.”

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“Behind the Candelabra is fabulous — so much so that, were it not for the fact that it reveals everything about his private life that he worked so hard to conceal, Liberace himself might well have loved it.”

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

“Perhaps one of the best-directed TV movies in the form’s history, Behind the Candelabra sees Soderbergh ending his generally strong run of pictures with an unexpected corker, one that surely would have touted year-end awards consideration if not for the prohibitive – and frankly, ridiculous – Academy Award rules.”

Michal Oleszczyk, RogerEbert.com

“Soderbergh shows both the sense of empowerment inherent in performing before an audience, as well as the possible trappings of becoming too caught up in its glamour. His latest — and allegedly last — movie serves as a great summation of that theme.”

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

“Much of the drama takes place in Liberace’s diamond-encrusted mansion amid a harem of chiseled man servants. While Sodebergh is restrained in his directorial choices, he does take advantage of the comedic opportunities of shooting in a home where everything sparkles.”

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

“If this is indeed Soderbergh’s final film he’s going out on an absolute high but if, as many suspect, he continues to make films, even if they are on television, this is further evidence that the quality of his work could continue at a very high standard.”

Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

“I feel safe in saying that the final sequence of Behind the Candelabra, with its pointed and poignant conflation of devout spirituality and let’s-put-on-a-show sentiment, is one of the most beautiful, most moving scenes Soderbergh has ever directed.”


Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

Makes perfect sense that Soderbergh’s BEHIND THE CANDELABRA will premiere on HBO. Finely executed but a TV movie through & through.

Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

Soderbergh’s BEHIND THE CANDELABRA has great perfs by Douglas and Damon and succeeds in being funny, moving and insightful

Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

Behind the Candlebra is standard fare for a biopic. Solid performances highlight Liberace’s flamboyant lifestyle, not much else

Alex Billington, First Showing

Behind the Candelabra – Cute biopic, Soderbergh tells a good story of romance. I forgot it even was Michael Douglas, he’s that good.

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

Behind the Candelabra: a brilliant biopic which expertly covers the camp, witty and moving

Catherine Bray, Film4

Behind The Candelabra is masterclass storytelling. Just genius. Loved it unreservedly. Bravo all involved. A+

Adam Cook, MUBI

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA: Soderbergh still exploring how to use digital images to tell stories & express emotions.

Jordan Cronk, Slant

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (Soderbergh): Ironically, not as flamboyant as his recent work. But as thematic reconciliation: moving. B+

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

Behind the Candelabra (Soderbergh): 55. A familiar trajectory distinguished only by its once-forbidden (in mainstream culture) milieu.

Douglas is pretty great, creating a real character beneath the caricature. Damon works hard to overcome being way, way too old.

Peter Debruge, Variety

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (Steven Soderbergh, 2013), – 7/10

Terrific, trophy-worthy perfs by Damon & Douglas propel this semi-sordid look at Liberace’s private life. HBO-bound pic deserves big screen.

Scott Foundas, Variety

Sex, Lies & Sequins: Soderbergh retires on top with his SUNSET BLVD. The staggering Michael Douglas is the one to beat for the Actor Palme.

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online

Oh, and BEHIND THE CANDELABRA is pretty good—standard-biopic material handled with genuine depth of feeling.

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (B/B+): Ascents and downfalls and the small personal moments that define them both. Hypnotically sad.

Eugene Hernandez, Filmlinc

Any fest needs a jolt of laughs & tenderness at its midpoint. That’s what BEHIND THE CANDELABRA offers

Logan Hill, New York Times

Behind the Candelabra is bold, nutty, sad. Douglas is great but Damon kills. The pinky rings are epic. Rob Lowe looks like mom in ‘Brazil.’

Jake Howell, Movie City News

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA: not exactly required viewing, but worth it for Rob Lowe alone.

While Michael Douglas is great in CANDELABRA, it’s really Matt Damon’s movie and his standout performance.

Peter Howell, Toronto Star

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA: Soderbergh’s Liberace TV film digs only skin deep, but Douglas & Damon do more than glitter.

Nick James, Sight & Sound

Great performances in BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, esp Michael Douglas, but it didn’t break down my natural resistance to the biopic

Craig Kennedy, Living in Cinema

Soderbergh’s BEHIND THE CANDELABRA an alternately sweet and sad love story. Pencil in Douglas for the Emmy

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

Behind the Candelabra is a brilliant, gleaming jewel of a film. Douglas is revelatory, and will get Oscar love if film qualifies.

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

CANDELABRA is as fun and well-crafted as expected, but in my estimation the surprise is that it’s Damon who does his best acting in years.

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

Alternately riotous and raw, Soderbergh’s BEHIND THE CANDELABRA is the best film in Competition so far.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Behind the Candelabra – 4/5. Soderbergh’s swan song does huge justice to TV films. Moving, hilarious, awards-worthy turns

David Neary, Next Projection

Behind the Candelabra: Splendid, tone-perfect look at the glitter and gloom of the life of Liberace. Finely dressed and shot, superbly acted

Michal Oleszczyk, RogerEbert.com

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA is my favorite competition so far. Michael Douglas deserves all awards in the world for his Liberace.

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

Behind the Candelabra is tamer than expected. Soderbergh in Erin Brokovich mode. Which is OK! Douglas and Damon are that good.

Behind the Candelabra scene-stealer: Rob Lowe as a plastic surgeon. Must be seen to be believed.

David Poland, Movie City News

Behind The Candelabra is wonderful. The scale is not wrong for HBO, even if studios don’t support cinema over movies enough.

The great surprise of the Soderbergh is Rob Lowe, who should be an Emmy nominee. Damon is great. & Michael Douglas shows A+ character chops

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA there’s yet more bling, but cheesier this time. Michael Douglas is as dazzling as Liberace’s teeth…

…And poignant. But the film’s weirdest pleasure? Rob Lowe’s weirdly pinched features. Followed by Scott Bakula’s moustache.

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

Dear Steven Soderbergh, please don’t stop making films

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (A) A rather traditional biopic in most respects but such an exquisitely well made one, with superb performances.

Nigel M. Smith, Indiewire

Douglas as Liberace: “too much of a good thing is wonderful.” Wish Soderbergh abided by that mantra. This best not be his last.

Expected to laugh during Behind the Candelabra. Didn’t expect to be so moved.

Jason Solomons, The Observer

i review audiences here, not films…but Candelabra is great fun: cocaine, facelifts =bad; sequins, fur = good; Douglas and Damon superb.

Sasha Stone, Awards Daily

More applause for Behind the Candelabra than any screening I’ve seen.

Fred Topel, Crave Online

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA is great. Solid grace note for Soderbergh’s career. Totally plays on big screen. That’s on you, Hollywood.

Blake Williams, Indiewire

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (6.3): Bodies as pathological timelines; a propos curtain to the last few years of SS films; Michael Fucking Douglas.

Damon Wise, Empire

Behind The Candelabra is a small but superior biopic; great performances and refreshingly fair about Liberace


Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter

“Robichaud’s direction has a few too many indie film tics, with lots of dead air hanging in between the minimalist dialogues, and the kind of deliberate insert shots (ironic fortune cookie proverbs, images of suburban sprawl) that we’ve seen a tad too many times.”

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

“Sarah Prefers to Run is a coming-of-age tale (given the somewhat stunted 20-year-old protagonist) for sure, but that is just part of what is at a larger level a heartfelt, understated and sublimely-acted drama about late-blossoming sexuality.”


Peter Howell, Toronto Star

SARAH PREFERS TO RUN: Runner’s high life. Bright debut for w/d C. Robichaud & empathetic perf by S. Desmarais in CDN UCR entry.

Dustin Jansick, Way Too Indie

Well my hunch proved to be a success. was a fantastic watch. A solid 8/10.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Sarah Prefers to Run – 3.5/5. Understated romance-cum-coming of age drama is emotionally resonant and powerfully acted

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

Very strong Québécois debut – SARAH PREFERS TO RUN. Part of the art cinema teenage girl sports subgenre. Like WATER LILIES. But dry.


Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“This restoration of a 1972 documentary about racing driver Jackie Stewart is an intriguing insight into the cheesy glamour of the motor sport of the era, but is perhaps a little too in thrall to its subject.”

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

“The film is more revealing about Stewart’s technique than about either his personality or the inner workings of Monaco and the Formula One world – although, even when he’s talking technical, as he mostly does, Stewart’s engaging, no-nonsense good humour shines through. But the film, containing some ferociously intense racing footage – plus some precise driving tips from a world-class expert – will be a must-see for lovers of the sport.”


Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

WEEKEND OF A CHAMPION is no Senna, but it’s an interesting time caps of 70s docus. Polanski/Stewart post-chat a must see for F1 fans

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

Not race guy, but thoroughly enjoyed restoration of Polanski’s WEEKEND OF A CHAMPION, which includes a good 15 min. of new footage.

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

Best bit in the Roman Polanski/Jackie Stewart racing doc WEEKEND OF A CHAMPION is when Roman does his ‘vroom vroom’ noises…

No doubt gold dust for Formula 1 fans, and very watchable. But I suspect Roman’s VENUS IN FUR may be even racier.


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