Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool sounds more like a dark comedy drama, but it’s the delightful mixture of both. Starring Annette Bening and Jamie Bell that tells the story of famed Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame last days before her death in 1981. Gloria Grahame, was a bombshell actress for MGM in the 40’s and 50’s who quickly became type casted as a sultry tart in most films… like for example ,The Bad and the Beautiful for which she won an Oscar.
Gloria Grahame was an interesting character in her own right and her live proved it. Well trained a a classic actress by her stage actress mother, she seemed to live the life of her characters from one Scandal to the next. But became memorable and such films as It’s a Wonderful Life or playing Ado Annie in the film version of Oklahoma. But this movie isn’t so much about revisiting her past career as her relationship with a young man that she met in Liverpool who became her confidant and of course, her lover.
Like most biographical movies, it aims to show more of her inner turmoil in the waning days of her career and having to face her own mortality as she finds out she’s dying of cancer. This film is only made greater by the performances of Annette Bening, Jamie Bell , and Julie Walters. You can always watch a documentary to get the true history of someone, but a biographical movie relies more on the performances of those who portray famous people.
I won’t say that this movie is one of the best ever made. In fact, it’s really just an okay film, but what makes it good and worth watching are the performances especially that of Annette Bening. Maybe doing this film with a little bit of Oscar bait for her, but she is electric playing Gloria Graham. Easily one of her best roles. Much like Jamie Foxx, who played Ray Charles over a decade ago and completely transformed himself to where you truly thought of him as Ray Charles, Benning does the same as Gloria Grahame. She really tapped into the duality of her character… the flamboyant and vivacious actress, and the sad, broken shell of who she used to be.
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is a delightful film, marked by great performances, but it’s not perfect. It really annoys me in the film when you have great actors that are underutilized as with Stephen Graham who plays the hot-headed brother. He’s such an enigmatic actor and to have him only play a bit part is a waste of talent. Despite this I think it’s a film that everybody should see at least once and for aspiring actors and actresses, see it as a shining example of what Great Performances can be. So if you’re going to the matinee and looking for something interesting then I would definitely suggest Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, but even the Great Performances can’t make this one of the best movies of the year. It’s okay at best and probably just a one-timer, but definitely worth your time so check it out.