MOVIE REVIEW: Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Drama about the real life romance between Peter Turner, a young Liverpool born actor, who embarks on a May to December relationship with an ageing vixen of the silver screen Gloria Grahame.  She was 29 years his senior and working where she could get hired they fall deeply in love but the age gap and other things pop up to make it a doomed romance.

Ever Since The American President back in the 90’s I’ve been lost to Annette Bening.  She just exuded the classic sex appeal of those performers that blistered the silver screen in the gold age of Hollywood.  Now she’s playing one of those nearly forgotten stars who in their later years struggle to find work.

This drama may not fit into your radar screen for many reasons but for all the right reasons then it should be blipping up towards the centre of the circle.  First of all Annette is there, so that’s a major plus, a performer that is just as capable now as she was thirty years ago.  She plays the vulnerable and head strong star who will not give up on her dreams, even though one of those was to play Juliet, she wants to be loved and lives for the day that her stardom returns.  A less capable star would shirk away from this role, but Bening embraces the role.  Too many times female lead roles in any movie make you say the phrase Any Other Actress, meaning any other female performer could play the role, but I could not see anyone else playing Gloria.

Now Jamie Bell has been around a lot since Billy Elliot and it’s been hard to see him as anything other than a teenager since.  This is the first time that we see him mature fully into a proper leading man role.  Playing Peter Turner he gives a touching and conflicted young man who loves Gloria deeply.  We don’t know why the relationship breaks down but when Gloria takes ill after the breakup she calls on him and his Mother to help her get better.  You feel that Bell is finally making the move from the awkward teen to the leading man.  Good for you Jamie.

The rest of the cast lead by Julie Walters all fit into the late 70’s and early 80’s beautifully structured world.  The touching scenes and chemistry between Bell and Bening, along with a clever hand behind the scenes with Paul McGuigan, and the real Peter Turner helping with the writing make this one of the best romantic dramas that I’ve seen in recent years.

The final scenes are a complete full on kick to the guts.  We get to know the characters through the film and thanks to the performances that are there we fall for them as they fall for each other.  When we find out the reasons for the break up of the relationship between Peter and Gloria, at least this is just for me, we understand the motivation completely.  If you like dramatic love stories that will make you weep by the end of them this is for you.

Director:  Paul McGuigan
Writers: Matt Greenhalgh (screenplay), Peter Turner (based on the memoir by)
Stars: Jamie BellAnnette BeningStephen Graham & more…. See full cast & crew

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