Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (M) 21, 23, 24 May
Coarse language, sexual references, mature themes
Director: Paul McGuigan
Featuring: Stephen Graham,
Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Julie Walters
Running time: 105 minutes
Original review: Peter Howell, Toronto Star
Extracted by: Ed Beswick
Based on a true story, the film follows the playful but passionate relationship between blue-collar British actor Peter Turner and the eccentric Academy Award-winning actress Gloria Grahame in 1978 Liverpool. There’s a 29-year age gap between the two and their careers are similarly divergent.
Adapted from Turner’s own memoir by Scottish director Paul McGuigan, this perfect study of a truly extraordinary relationship is filled with humour, passion, and insight, effortlessly capturing the connection, both emotional and physical, between the pair. Gloria is on the way down, forced to cut costs on her lodgings as she appears in a low-profile production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. Peter is on the way up (or hopes he is) being at that “world’s your oyster” age and stage in his career where every casting call seems like a pathway to the big time. He’s from Liverpool but he’s living in London, awaiting stardom. The unlikely pair bond over a spontaneous disco dance, followed by a drink and then the profound attraction of lovers who feel no need to explain their situation or feelings for each other to anyone.
Flying in the face of the ‘fading star’ label, Grahame (Bening) represents a woman who will not compromise her professional ambitions or her desire for personal fulfilment. Turner (Bell), revelatory in this role, is more than a perfect match in what is an invigorating, romantic and irresistible love story – a narrative of actors divided by age, class and continents, but united by desire.