Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is plainly wonderful, and stars Annette Bening, who is plainly wonderful, as Gloria Grahame, a one-time Hollywood movie star who in later life hits on hard times — ‘a big name in black and white. Not doing too well in colour,’ comments her landlady at one point — and embarks on a romance with a young English actor who is 30 years her junior. It is based on a true memoir. It is a love story, told tenderly, bravely, smartly, movingly. And believably. Older women, it seems, can be interesting, complicated, vital, attractive and sexual. Who knew? (But don’t spread the word, or they’ll all want to be like that, and won’t take the shitty bit-parts any more.)
The memoir is by Peter Turner, who was an aspiring, twenty-something Liverpudlian actor when he first met 56-year-old Grahame in London in 1979 — we’ll see him take her to the pub for a pint of bitter; 45p! — but the film opens a couple of years later when they are no longer together, and she is due to appear on stage in the provinces somewhere.