Few but film buffs remember Hollywood star Gloria Grahame, a wisecracking, sultry blonde in the 40s and 50s whose career largely dried up after the heyday of film noir. Which makes this tender, bittersweet biopic about her final years all the more poignant.
Annette Bening and Jamie Bell are sexy, funny and touching as Grahame and the young Liverpudlian actor, Peter Turner, with whom she enjoyed a surprising May-to-September romance before her death in 1981.
Based on Turner’s memoir of the same name, the film glosses over the more unsavoury elements of Grahame’s story – such as her seduction of her then husband Nicholas Ray’s 13-year-old son Tony who she later married. But Bening’s bravura performance still manages to convey the shadows as well as the light in Grahame’s character. Bell is equally arresting as her younger lover and Julie Walters and Kenneth Cranham lend typically superb support as Bell’s working-class Liverpudlian parents who end up taking Grahame into their home when she is dying.