Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool Screen 6 articles

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool


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  • Oddly, the most egregiously drab of all the films mentioned here is the one that seems like it would be most playful: Paul McGuigan’s Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, which has the dubious distinction of featuring a brilliantly cast Annette Bening as Gloria Grahame and then proceeding to drain her of vivacity and life in favor of a funereal trudge toward indignity and death.

  • What of the contours of their sex life, which requires the navigation of numerous physical, cultural, and emotional differences between the parties? We never see either Turner or Grahame at work either, and we rarely feel the effect of this relationship on the remainder of their respective lives. Turner brings Grahame home to his working-class family, and his parents are almost laughably unperturbed by their son’s relationship with a troubled legend.

  • McGuigan, telling the story of Grahame and Turner in a way that’s psychologically simplistic and dramatically thin, makes his film timeless in the worst way: it has little to say about the era in which the action takes place, the earlier days in which Grahame made her name, or, for that matter, about today.

  • McGuigan keeps things uncharacteristically restrained, giving both performers the space to work these occasional wonders with material that holds your interest even as it, ultimately, goes to all the places you’d expect.

  • The period soundtrack is a touch obvious; people literally walk through doors into their past or future; and a climactic scene that fulfills a lifelong dream of Grahame is pure cheese, though it may also be true. Contrivance aside, though, the movie offers a tough and tender love story that's also clear-eyed about the multiple motivations that both deepened and muddied the bond between a struggling young actor and a former star old enough to be his mother.

  • I’m a huge Gloria Grahame fan and I went into this pretty skeptical, feeling protective of that sashaying tart with the little girl voice (which also managed to sound super tough) … who played so many unforgettable roles back in the day. Bening is so good that when actual clips from Grahame’s films are shown, you BELIEVE you are looking at a younger Annette Bening. The film is heartbreaking in many ways but also a celebration of Gloria Grahame.

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