Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Time Out says
Boy meets movie star in this tender-hearted love story about Gloria Grahame and the Liverpudlian actor she fell for.
Kitchen sink meets Hollywood glamour in a soulful, real-life account of the relationship between then-55-year-old Oscar winner Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) and 26-year-old actor Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) in the late ’70s. The passion project of James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, its central love affair feels almost like a corrective to 007’s endless age-inappropriate flings: here it’s Grahame who wows her much younger neighbour with the perfume of stardom that lingers even years later in the modest surrounds of Primrose Hill. ‘Has anyone ever told you you look like Lauren Bacall when you smoke?’ he teases. ‘Yeah,’ she shoots back. ‘Humphrey Bogart.’
Bogey namedrops aside, their relationship swiftly transcends these gaps in age and status. Playing out in smoky pubs and dates to the pictures, and briskly handled by director Paul McGuigan, it’s never less than believable, thanks mainly to two leads on sparkling form. Bell is terrific as the caring but easily bruised Turner, but it’s Bening who steals the show as an icon fallen on harder times. Brittle and insecure, yet also steely and magnetic, it’s a performance full of nuance. It also bears out the recollections of another director – Stephen Frears – of his first encounter with the actress for ‘The Grifters’ in 1991. ‘I looked at Annette and thought: My God, Gloria Grahame!’ he recalled. He was more right than he knew.
Cast and crew
Users say (5)
Average User Rating
3.4 / 5
- 5 star:2
- 4 star:0
- 3 star:2
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:1
Enjoyable but not the four star film that most critics have awarded.
Bening and Bell are excellent as the faded star and younger, smitten actor who have a tumultuous affair. It's got an all round stellar cast - Vanessa Redgrave, Frances Barber, Julie Walters and Kenneth Cranham but I felt the director doesn't get their best performances and felt an emptiness at the heart of the movie. It's a small story, not really big enough for a major film and although Bening and Bell are fabulous, they don't succeed in carrying the whole movie.
The time transitions are clever, the sets depressing - this was the era of brown and avocado - and little of Graham's background is supplied to give context to the events. When I read more about her I thought the script presents a sanitised version of her, from Turner's view of course. It probably would have been more believable if the raunchiness of her life had not been toned down and the affair sweetened for audiences.
I found it a goodish film but not a great one.
Another film, another disappointment, where I have to disagree with most of the “real” professional critics who generally like it.
The biopic covers the declining late.career of Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) who manages to attract a gullible young wannabe actor, Peter (Jamie Bell) in ‘70s London.
Gloria had been a Hollywood star in bimbo roles and actually won a “best supporting” Oscar in her early days but deeply resents any reminder that she is old. Their relationship follows the predictable shipwreck of older woman and young lover.
Without even bothering to cover their tedious story, neither of them are sympathetic. Gloria has secondary cancer having earlier refused chemo through hair loss vanity and Peter frankly comes over as a reptilian nonentity.
Redeeming features of this dismal film are Vanessa Redgrave, Frances Barber (both cameos), and Scouser parents Julie Walters and Kenneth Cranham, all of whom breathe life into the aridity.
Not really too bad to walk out but not far off it.