DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews
 
FILM STARS DON'T DIE IN LIVERPOOL  (director: Paul McGuigan; screenwriter: based on Peter Turner's memoir/Matt Greenhalgh; cinematographer: Urszula Pontikos; editor: Nick Emerson; music: J. Ralph.; cast: Annette Bening (Gloria Grahame),  Jamie Bell (Peter Turner), Julie Walters (Bella Turner), Stephen Graham (Joe Jr.), Vanessa Redgrave (Jean Grahame), Frances Barber (Jo), Kenneth Cranham (Joe Turner), Jodie McNee (Jessie), Joanna Brookes (Didi); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Barbara Broccoli, Colin Vaines; Sony Pictures Classics; 2017-UK)

"A nicely made biopic on the former Hollywood film noir femme fatale, Gloria Grahame."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A nicely made biopic on the former Hollywood film noir femme fatale, Gloria Grahame (In A Lonely Place/The Big Heat/Human Desire), keying in on the English born Grahame's last years from 1979 to 1981 when dying of cancer and her brief romance with the much younger Liverpool novice actor Peter Turner (Jamie Bell). Grahame died of breast cancer at the age of 57. The drama is based on the 1986 memoir of the same name by Peter Turner, and is directed by the Scottish filmmaker Paul McGuigan ("Push"/"Wicker Park") from a limited script by Matt Greenhalgh (it missed taking in much more about Grahame's life by being so ordinary in its storytelling). It sags with the downer coverage of Grahame as a patient in the row of houses of her boyfriend's parents humble house when dying in Liverpool of cancer. The film is refreshed by continuous flashbacks of the lovers in Manhattan or Malibu getting it on, or when first meeting and doing the disco moves in her apartment from "Saturday Night Fever."

Grahame is the four-times divorced mother of four who chose to be in England when her life in America was rocked by scandal. While in a Tennessee Williams stage production in England in the late '70s the fifty-something starlet met the 26-year-old Peter. When she again tours England in 1981, though feeling sick she rejects medical help to be lodged with Peter's receptive family in Liverpool.

Bening is terrific as the complex star with a rich past and so is is Bell as the young guy with a heart, with fine support from Julie Walters and Kenneth Cranham as Bell's solid working-class parents. I was touched by Grahame's gallant story, and always admired her acting and her choice of films (appearing in some of the best iconic film-noir vehicles).

REVIEWED ON 5/1/2019       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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