Thursday, October 26, 2017

BOOK VS MOVIE: Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

The private lives of public figures is something we find deeply engrossing. What are they like far away from the flashes of cameras? Are the smiles they wear for their audiences simply for show? Only those close to them know the real answer.

Which is why there's such an interest in memoirs and biographies. Through those we get the details that the media tend to speculate before they're confirmed or denied. But sometimes such accounts become more captivating when they're from someone close to the famous personality.

Peter Turner's Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool chronicles the final days of his former lover Gloria Grahame as she takes refuge in his family's home. Switching between (then-)present day and various points of their relationship, Turner depicts Grahame as a woman who was very much like the roles she often played: a no-nonsense kind of girl with a soft side.

A few tweaked details aside, Paul McGuigan's adaptation stays mostly true to Turner's memories of Grahame. (It shines more of a light on the cancer that would ultimately claim the actress' life.) Jaime Bell and Annette Bening (as Turner and Grahame, respectively) have strong chemistry. and the film has moments that are reminiscent of the Hollywood era when Grahame's fame was at its peak. That said, the latter doesn't always work.

So which is better: Turner's memoir or McGuigan's film? Both depict Grahame as more than just an Oscar-winning movie star and how pugnacious of a person she could be. (The last bit isn't generally a bad thing, mind you.) And the two works make one thing very clear: a famous person is still a person, far from immune to the usual failings found in the human race. (We're just prone to putting them on a pedestal.)

What's worth checking out?: The book.

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