Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

February 28, 2018 by Roz Tarszisz
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It takes a classy actress to play a Hollywood legend.  In this biopic, Annette Bening throws herself into the role of fifties movie star Gloria Grahame.

Its 1979 in London when Gloria, now in her fifties and playing British theatre, meets Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) where they are living in the same London rooming house.   Her star had fallen by then so she takes work where she can get it.

Peter, an aspiring actor, is working as a waiter. Gloria is so engaging it’s no wonder that Peter falls hard for her. It’s not her film star glamour that draws him in, but her charm, sardonic wit and beauty.

The snappy script from Matt Greenhalgh (The Look of Love) is based on the memoir of Peter Turner.  The young man is taken in by the real glamour of Grahame as he knows little about her career when they meet. Later he watches some of her black and white films and realises she had truly been in the big time.

He falls hard and it’s mutual, their feelings jump the age gap, at least for some of the time.

He visits her at home in Los Angeles and learns from her mother Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave) that Gloria’s fourth husband had been the step-son of her third husband, which is not something she had told him but he is so smitten it doesn’t seem to matter.

The story criss-crosses backwards and forwards in time to show the lovers meeting, loving and parting.

Director Paul McGuigan (Victor Frankenstein) has created a world where two disparate people can find something special together.  During a visit to New York they have a falling out and it is not until later that we discover what was the real reason behind the breakup.

When Gloria falls ill whilst doing theatre in England she calls on her ex-lover to take her to his parents’ home in Liverpool where Peter’s mother Bella (Julie Walters) is delighted to welcome her.  It is interesting that Peter Turner himself has a small part in the film.

Bening is incandescent as the sophisticated actress while Bell brings a smouldering intensity to his role as her lover.

Passionate, surprisingly tender and romantic.

4/5 2017 Rated M  Released March 1st

Starring Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Vanessa Redgrave

Directed by Paul McGuigan

Screenplay by Matt Greenhalgh based on the memoir by Peter Turner

 

 

 

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