Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool saved from mediocrity by brilliant acting

Based on the memoir of Hollywood screen siren Gloria Grahame, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool has landed in New Zealand cinemas.

Here Jamie Bell proves his emotional metal as a young British actor who falls in love with the much older Hollywood film star Gloria Grahame, played of course by the marvellous Annette Bening.

It's a true story - the memoir written by Bell's character, Peter Turner - and there is a genuine gentle, loving softness in its telling.

Grahame is in her twilight years living in the UK, treading the boards in a small theatre. Her Oscar-winning past has faded well into the distance; her talent, though, has not.

When Turner becomes friends with her he has no idea how truly famous she once was and he falls in love with her, not her fame.

Of course the mysterious enigmatic Grahame has a few secrets, one very big one which will be revealed many years later she turns up on the doorstep of Peter's house.

Both Bening and Bell are at the top of their game here. Their connection feels very real and very intense, and between them they elevate the rather pedestrian and patchily paced delivery of the story overall.

Three stars.


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