Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool: Film Review

Annette Bening can pull an amazing performance out of the bag every time, while Jamie Bell has been in need of a meaty dramatic role to sink his teeth into for a while, and they both get the opportunity to shine in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.

Bening portrays Oscar-winning American actress Gloria Grahame as her star is fading and she is in a modest theatre production in Lancaster in 1981. She suddenly falls ill and calls on her former lover Peter Turner (Bell) and he takes her to rest in his parents’ house so his mother (Julie Walters) can help care for her. During this time, he reminisces about their love affair, which took place a few years earlier.

Grahame has so many different moods and facets to her personality and Bening navigates them so well. One minute she is confident, the next she is self-conscious about her age, especially being with a young Liverpool boy who is almost the same age as her oldest son. The flashbacks show their meeting in London, them falling in love and them breaking up after a big fight. Turner is in awe and head over heels in love with her and he just wants to make her happy, but he doesn’t always know how to do that. Seeing her again, this time ill, makes it hard for him as he’s still not over their relationship.

Bening is fantastic, as is Bell, who hasn’t been this great in years. They are both incredibly moving and made this unconventional love story, which is based on Turner’s own memoir, a joy to watch.

Originally seen as part of the 61st BFI London Film Festival. In cinemas from Thursday 16th November 


  1. I’ll make a point to watch this. Grahame is one of my favorite actresses, and I’ve read a couple books about her, including the one on which this film is based. According to “Suicide Blonde,” letters were found after Grahame’s death that indicate she dumped Turner, a minor actor, because he was bribing her with sex in hopes she could help get him into film.

    Liked by 1 person

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