Based on the romance between young actor Peter Turner and the 55-year-old Oscar-winning star Gloria Grahame, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is a well directed, if forgettable film. Directed by Paul McGuigan, the film stars Annette Bening and Jamie Bell with support from Julie Walters as Bell’s mother.
The film is very visually striking and has incredible cinematography. It is clear that certain elements of the film, including the costumes have been carefully chosen to compliment and accentuate the beautiful colourful palette. The sumptuous glamour of Hollywood is truly captured and is the best element of the film.
On the other hand, something seems missing. In reality, Gloria Grahame was a Hollywood diva who married her own stepson (who became her 4th husband), after a relationship that apparently started when he was 13, while she was in her late 20s. However, her dark past rarely came about in the movie (briefly mentioned by an angry sister during a dinner with the couple) and it means that Grahame feels a little too sanitised to be believable.
The movie focuses more on the love affair between Turner and Grahame, keeping it very glossy and romantic. This may be due to the fact that the film is based on the book written by Peter Turner, so we see things mostly from his perspective; someone so in love that he ignores the negative aspects of his love.
The film mostly consist of scenes set in a gloomy 1981 in Peter’s home in Liverpool, where Gloria decides to stay, and romantic flashbacks to their early love story. As a result, the movie ends up being about the fascination of a young, working class man with a Hollywood star and the old fashioned glamour that she represents ( which is strengthened by the dreamlike cinematography), which is enough to retain your interest but not enough to make an unforgettable film.
Jamie Bell and Annette Bening are fine in their roles but they are not as impressive as they have proven to be in other productions. This might be due to poor writing and flat characterisation. Overall, the movie has a fantastic cinematography but little else that makes it stand out from the crowd.
Look forward to more reviews as the festival winds down including Bad Genius, You Were Never Really Here and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri.
Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool is screening as part of LIFF 31. For tickets visit LeedsFilmCity.com.
Image Source: Atrix.co.uk
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