Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool Reviewed by Clayton Barnett

The Premise
A romance sparks between a young actor and a Hollywood leading lady.
The Review
Jamie Bell and Annette Bening create some movie romance magic in the based-on-a-true-story Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.

The Brits just know how to make those charming movies perfect to take your mum to, and this BAFTA-nominated gem is just that great mix of laughs, emotion and a killer soundtrack.

Based on the true story of a young Peter Turner and his passionate romance of 40’s femme fatale Gloria Grahame, who was nearly 30 years his senior. This is actually the same age gap between co-stars Bell and Bening, which is a nice surprise for a modern movie.

The chemistry between the two is believable, with the pair obviously enjoying their time together on screen and are totally deserving of their BAFTA noms. Bening has been more of a supporting player of late and it’s great to see her centre stage and showing her class.

Bell’s enthusiasm is infectious and it’s lovely to see him reunited with his Billy Elliot co-star Julie Walters after 17 years. Walters and the likes of Vanessa Redgrave and Stephen Graham fill out a stellar cast.

Scottish director Paul McGuigan (Victor Frankenstein) hasn’t set the film scene alight but has done stylish work in TV helming episodes of Luke Cage and Sherlock. He’s ably helped by the affecting BAFTA nominated Best Adapted Screenplay from Matt Greenhalgh (Control, Nowhere Boy).

The opening scene as Bening prepares for a night on the stage is meticulously planned and gorgeously shot, setting the standard for some ingenious theatre-inspired transitions from past to present.

Plus fans of the era will savour the soundtrack, featuring the likes of The Mamas and the Papas, Dusty Springfield, Elton John, and a touching song from Elvis Costello written for the film, ‘You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way’.
The Verdict
The lead performances from Bening and Bell are worth admission alone for this gorgeously rendered affecting crowdpleaser.
The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 1st March 2018
Rating: M – Contains offensive language & sexual references
Duration: 105 minutes
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Jamie Bell, Annette Bening, Stephen Graham
Director: Paul McGuigan (WickerPark, Acid House)
The Extras
Before Annette Bening depicted Gloria Grahame in this film, she had used Grahame's performance in The Big Heat (1953) as an inspiration for her own depiction of a femme fatale in The Grifters (1990).

The real Peter Turner, on whose memoir this is based, appears in the role of 'Jack'.

Only the third non-James Bond movie produced by Eon Productions, the first being Call Me Bwana (1963) and the second Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Annette Bening was 59 years old at the time of this film's release, making her two years older than Gloria Grahame was when she died.

The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Vanessa Redgrave; one BAFTA winner: Jamie Bell; and two Oscar nominees: Annette Bening and Julie Walters.

Unusually for this sort of biopic, the vintage clips feature the real Grahame, rather than matting Bening into them, as is more common these days.