Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Film, Romance
4 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(5user reviews)
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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. 


Release details

Release date:
Friday November 17 2017
105 mins

Cast and crew

Paul McGuigan
Matt Greenhalgh
Annette Bening
Jamie Bell
Julie Walters
Kenneth Cranham

Users say (5)

3 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
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Never mind take a tissue with you for this film, take a whole pack of kitchen roll because you will absolutely need it. I missed this in the cinema but took the chance to watch it on the rainiest greyest of weekends and honestly, could not have loved it more. It's absolutely beautiful in every single way it's possible to be and watching it is a reminder of how wonderful the very best cinematic experiences can be.

Telling the true story of the relationship between fading blonde bombshell & properly old-fashioned movie star Gloria Grahame and struggling Liverpudlian thespian Peter Turner in the late 1970's from their first meeting in Primrose Hill to their last encounter in Turner's family home. Shot on film, it's gorgeous to look at with sugared almond colours fading into sunset sepias and gloriously rich landscapes and these visuals are paired with a score that's both moving and spirited. 

Jamie Bell and Annette Bening are absolutely perfect as Turner and Grahame with flawless support from Julie Walters, Kenneth Cranham and Vanessa Redgrave. Each role is given room to breathe and it's impossible not to fall in love with these characters, all brought to life with immense generosity and empathy by the cast. No-one is perfect with both leads showing un-likeable aspects of their personalities but rather than being off-putting, it simply makes them more relatable and believable. Early 'courtship' scenes are full of sparkling energy - a dance scene is so much fun to watch especially given Bell's cinematic dance background - while later moments are completely heart-breaking; if you find yourself full on sobbing by the end, know you're not the only one to do so. 

Cinema has always been one of my life's true loves but there can be no denying that there's a huge amount of lowest-common-denominator dross out there right now which makes finding a movie like this even more of a reason to watch and to celebrate; as a character study, a love story and a period piece, it's sheer perfection.


I'm really surprised by the average reviews - I loved this film so much. Such a beautiful love story - so uplifting in parts but absolutely devastating in others. Benning and Bell were both incredible. Just loved it. 

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.


Very touching and sentimental detailing the apparently real life relationship between Gloria Grahame and lesser known actor Peter Turner towards the latter end of her life based on memoirs written by Peter Turner.  I cried watching this film! The connection between these two was heartfelt and at times watching some of the scenes of how their relationship evolved on screen was extremely moving. The insecurities displayed by Gloria really shone through as an actress that was once in her prime affected by scandal and health problems. She seems to be desperate to clutch onto her youth and this was portrayed excellently by Annette Bening. On paper you probably wouldn’t think this relationship would work out but the leads of Jamie Bell and Annette Bening made their relationship seem convincing and genuine.

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 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.