Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Julia Walters, Vanessa Redgrave, Stephen Graham, Leanne Best, James Bloor, Frances Barber, Kenneth Cranham, Isabelle Laughland, Peter Turner, Tom Brittney, Edward Bourne, Susanne Bertish, Joey Batey, Tim Ahern, Luana Di Pasquale.
Imagine, if you can, what it would be to be in a relationship with someone who was once considered Hollywood royalty, who held audiences captive with their ability on screen and who made crowds love them. It is surely impossible to believe such a thing could happen, even if you do read about in the gossip columns and the world of social media, it is almost too good to ever believe it would happen to you.
For Liverpool’s Peter Turner, meeting Gloria Grahame was perhaps just an ordinary day, one tinged with a moment of delight, but like all good romances became something bigger that either could have expected. A love story that became the stuff of legend in Liverpool, a Hollywood picture that could grace the Playhouse Theatre, one that insists that Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool.
The film is arguably not even a love story between two people, it is more of a powerful reflection on the affection felt for the city of Liverpool; that the stories told by Peter Turner about his home city to Gloria Grahame were such that as the bond between the couple grew, that there was no place that the pair could be which didn’t remind them of a home which welcomes all.
What comes across in the film is the way that the city of Liverpool has a way, almost uniquely, of making people fall in love with it and the people that make it their home. It is almost impossible to not feel the pulse of the city, to talk to the citizens and feel their pride, their humour and their history become part of your own story. It is infectious; it is a black and white film that suddenly takes on the full spectrum of colour and one that cannot be dismissed easily.
With wonderful performances by the two leads of Annette Bening and Jamie Bell and the incomparable Julie Walters, Kenneth Cranham and Stephen Graham all pushing the film to its very best conclusion, the raw emotion felt as the dying Gloria Grahame is enveloped by the family and the arguments ensue, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool is an exercise in the requited love story; one that stands up against any of those in the same class or breed with its integrity held high.
Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, but Liverpool and Gloria Grahame for a brief moment were perfect for each other, the beautiful and the honest, a rare mix in a couple.
Ian D. Hall