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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool (2017)

The Oscar winning actress Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) has fallen on hard times and is performing Sadie Thompson in RAIN in Liverpool when she meets a young struggling actor (Jamie Bell). Thus begins an intense two year relationship that ends in death before it can be resolved. Based on the non fiction book by Peter Turner (played by Bell) and directed by Paul McGuigan. It's a sketchy film that I wish had more time to develop but it works as a memory piece, Peter Turner's memory piece and we see Gloria Grahame (he didn't know who she was when they met) through his eyes. So we don't get to know Grahame outside the 2 year period when she was dying of cancer. Bening wisely doesn't try to ape Grahame's mannerisms or looks and she only slightly uses Grahame's famous lisp. So by not imitating her, Bening is free to develop Grahame as a character without the limitations a full on impersonation would preclude. And let's face it, outside of film buffs, Gloria Grahame just isn't well known today. A lot of the flashbacks are stylized, played out on obvious backdrops (probably due to budget constraints rather than artistic choices) which adds an even more atmospheric mood to the memory piece. With Vanessa Redgrave as Grahame's mother, Julie Walters, Kenneth Cranham, Frances Barber and Stephen Graham. 

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