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Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool


Stars: Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Kenneth Cranham, Vanessa Redgrave, Frances Barber, Stephen Graham

Director: Paul McGuigan

Sad and gloomy, but also touching and informative account of the last two years in the troubled and strange life of Oscar-winning American actress Gloria Grahame (Bening).

With four marriages and an equal number of children trailing in her wake, the star, her Hollywood days (and, she hopes, her breast cancer) far behind her, ends up playing at the Watford Palace in England, where she meets out-of-work Liverpudlian actor Peter Turner (Bell).

Although he is 27 and she 55, they begin an at-first joyous affair that is to continue for the rest of Grahame's relatively short life. Shouting matches develop later between them, triggered by Gloria's mysterious assignations, which in reality are to see her doctor, who tells her the cancer has returned; she had previously refused chemotherapy as it would have meant losing her hair.

Soon, though, she's back in Liverpool, being cared for by Peter and his parents (Walters, Cranham), who put a trip to Australia on hold.

Bening looks little like the real thing (though she has the voice off pat), but the important thing here is to have an actress rather than a lookalike, and Bening, as always, is superb. Bell is also good, if somewhat in her shadow.

The director's habit of switching between past and present does sometimes leave you in limbo for a few seconds, a minor flaw in an interesting emotional experience.

David Quinlan

USA 2017. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour by Arri.
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 14 Nov 2017