Annette Bening channels the sprit of a faded Hollywood legend in the new trailer for Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, director Paul McGuigan’s soaring romance about the final days of Oscar-winning actress Gloria Grahame’s unconventional life.

Based on the Peter Turner’s memoir of the same name, the film examines the actor-writer’s courtship with Grahame as it blossomed alongside her deteriorating health, though an aggressive form of cancer quickly dimmed the shine of one of the most popular actresses of the film noir era.

After decades spent running with heavy drinkers, gamblers, and otherwise poisonous Hollywood types (she was married four times, most notably to to Rebel Without a Cause helmer Nicholas Ray and comedy writer Cy Howard), Grahame (Bening) met Turner (Bell) by chance in the lobby of a U.K. apartment building, and the new preview above lays the foundation for the story of what would become, by Turner’s account, the least tumultuous romantic entanglement of her life, just before she succumbed to her illness in the fall of 1981.

In the hunt for her fifth Oscar nomination, Bening has received mostly positive notices for her performance in Film Stars, with light Oscar buzz building during the film’s fall festival travels, which included awards-positioning stops in Telluride and Toronto. Bell, on the other hand, has received some of the best reviews of his career for his performance as Turner, which recently landed him a BIFA nod for best actor.

Grahame, perhaps best known for her work in movies like It’s a Wonderful Life, Crossfire, and The Big Heat, cultivated a popular persona as a sexpot with a heart of gold opposite Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, and Glenn Ford for directing royalty like Frank Capra, Fritz Lang, and Cecil B. DeMille. She also stirred a great deal of controversy throughout her career, notably causing tension on the set of Oklahoma! (she reportedly hit choreographer Agnes de Mille on the head and kicked costar Charlotte Greenwood) after allegedly sleeping with Ray’s son from a previous marriage, Tony (whom she’d later marry), when the boy was just 13 years old.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool opens Dec. 29. Watch the film’s new trailer above, and see the new poster below.

Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool
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  • Paul McGuigan