Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool Review
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The life of a Hollywood A-lister is one of glamorous parties, luxurious vacations, and other extravagance. But the fame and fortune don’t always last forever. And Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool tells a less than glamorous story about a beloved starlet’s final days.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool stars Jamie Bell as Peter Turner, a young British actor who finds himself caring for ailing actress and his former love, Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening), at his parents’ home in Liverpool in 1981. As he struggles to care for this once vibrant and alluring Hollywood legend while she fades in front of his eyes, he looks back on their relationship—on their meeting, their budding romance, their travels, and their abrupt end.

Based on Peter Turner’s memoir of his unconventional romance with the aging (and ailing) star, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool travels back and forth through time in the most artistic of ways to tell a moving story about love and celebrity.

The film doesn’t examine much of Gloria’s career. This Oscar-winning star—who carries around mementos from her famous costars—doesn’t live a glamorous life in her later years. She rents a far-from-luxurious room in London while she’s away from the trailer she calls home in California. And, other than glimpses of her past films and the occasional mention of costars and achievements and personal drama, the character is a mystery—one who will most likely send you to Google to dig for more details after you finish watching the film.

Still, whether you’re familiar with Gloria Grahame and her background or not, Bening brings the character to life in a way that’s both beautiful and heartbreaking. Gloria may not be the pretty young Hollywood starlet anymore, but she’s still fun-loving and vivacious. It’s clear that she works hard to keep up appearances—to act and sound like the movie star that she once was. But it all feels rather tragic—not just her failing health but also her desperation to cling to the youthful roles and the bubbly character of her past. Bening’s performance is daring and multifaceted, with some memorable moments—and it’s paired with another noteworthy performance by Bell, who offers a different perspective on this uncommon love story.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool isn’t a flashy Hollywood biopic. It’s a simple and unpretentious film—a moving portrait of a movie star in her last days. And Bening’s performance alone makes it worth checking out.

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