REVIEW: Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool

Based on a memoir by Liverpudlian actor, Peter Turner, this new Mersey based drama follows the true story of Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame, who finds romance and happiness with a younger, ‘ordinary’ man. However, her life changes forever when she is diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1970s.

The films stars Annette Bening and Jamie Bell as the leading couple, backed by an unarguably strong cast which features the likes of Vanessa Redgrave, Stephen Graham and a favourite of ours, Julie Walters, who has taken on and nailed the scouse accent before, in Educating Rita.

And, don’t worry, you’ll find no spoilers here – at least nothing that isn’t in the trailer.

In this tale of love and heartbreak we see the complicated, yet sincere relationship between Gloria Grahame and Jamie Bell’s Peter Turner develop through hardship in a way that is played out tenderly and appropriately. With this being a true story, and one that many people of a certain generation will know the outcome of, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, or FSDDIL (as no-one is calling it), does not conform to your typical Rom-Com tropes. In-fact, the honesty on screen through the performances, the bitter-sweet story and, of course, the setting, sets it apart from being ‘just another Rom-Com or Period Drama’.

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The chemistry between the leads is enthralling, the tragedy is crushing and yet the atmosphere is all in all, heart-warming.

We see Grahame return to Liverpool to be reunited with her past love, swapping Hollywood for a terrace house in Merseyside, surrounded by his loving family, not her fans or even her own, as her illness takes over. Although this doesn’t sound particularly life affirming from her point of view, it gave us a fuzzy feeling inside. This is due to the kind hearted nature of the Turner family in the film, depicted by Julie Walters and Kenneth Cranham, who know full well about her fame and status but treat her as fellow human being in need of help, just like anyone else – a true Liverpudlian trait displayed with accuracy and heart.

Our handsome city doesn’t look too shabby on the silver screen either, scrubbing up rather well indeed. Keep an eye out for the likes of Huskisson Street, the Philharmonic Dining Rooms, Ye Cracke, The Playhouse and a poignant scene on the Royal Iris Mersey Ferry as it sits atop the river itself.

We’re always a little weary when we hear about films based on, or in, Liverpool due to just how dodgy some of the accents can be. However, in this case, we completely forgot that there was any acting even going on as we fell completely into this story, soaking up the setting as if we weren’t just around the corner from it and eating up the acting as if Julie Walters was going to invite us in for a brew and that Bening was indeed the Hollywood starlet, Gloria Grahame, herself.

Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool is out now across the UK and can be seen in various cinemas across the region. 

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