August 16, 2022
Elvis Movie Review

“Overall, Elvis is a triumph. One that fully captures the addictive nature of fame and the passion Elvis had for his music and his fans,” says Darcie in her review

Baz Luhrmann, the director that gave us the iconic Moulin Rouge! (2001) and the unforgettable Great Gatsby (2013) is back with his sixth feature film. Elvis. The film chronicles the life of Rock and Roll King Elvis Presley. From the start of his career to his tragic death. With focus placed on the turbulent relationship between Presley and his manager Colonel Tom Parker. Luhrmann, brings his artistic flare to Elvis, combining music with visual spectacle to create another brilliant piece of cinema

aUSTIN bUTLER AS eLVIS
AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

BIOGRAPHY

The narrative works as a biography, not always chronological. Instead, it jumps through time, showing us things in the past that lead to the present in the same way biographical books are structured. Elvis is not just a dramatization of a musical legend. But a tool for education. This is to the benefit of those in the audience that like me knew very little about Elvis other than his music and his struggles later in life. Whilst some films about legends have left a rather negative impact on me, Presley left a resounding positive yet saddened impression. His life is conveyed through a series of eutrophic highs; emotional peaks, and tragic lows that give audiences a taste of his experience.

AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis and TOM HANKS as Col. Tom Parker in “ELVIS,”
(L-r) AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis and TOM HANKS as Col. Tom Parker in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

COLONEL TOM PARKER

The events of Presley’s life are framed by voiceovers and scenes of Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) as he tries to alleviate blame for Elvis’ death whilst upon his death bed. It’s a powerful way to tell a story. And perhaps not the standard approach, but it leaves an impact. Rather than absolving himself of any guilt, Parker implicates himself. Garnering further sympathy for Presley. Hank’s performance in this role is up there as a career highlight.  He conveys the scheming, self-motivated Parker subtly and believably. You almost do not see his full betrayal until it is too late, which must have been akin to the real events as Presley was trapped by Parker in reality and only realized once it was too late.

eLVIS
TOM HANKS as Colonel Tom Parker in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Hanks’ performance is only surpassed by one other, Austin Butler gives us a career-defining performance as The King. Butler successfully brings life to Presley at every stage of his life except childhood (where Chandon Jay gives us a wonderful few scenes). He captures Elvis in a way no tribute performer ever could. He has the charisma, the dance moves; the voice, the expressions, and the emotion. During an early performance, Butler gives the most astounding display of talent. His rendition of ‘Trouble’ is all-consuming. You can feel the passion he brings to the role, the dedication to dutifully bring Presley to life is electrifying to watch. Fully capturing Elvis Butler is simply sensational, I would be shocked if an Oscar nomination is not in his near future.

Elvis
AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

SPECTACLE

The narrative structure, framing devices, and incredible acting however are not the only reasons Elvis leaves such a profound impact. No Baz Luhrmann film would be complete without some artistic spectacle. Whilst his stylization modernized both The Great Gatsby and Romeo + Juliet (1996); in the case of Elvis, the Baz style captures Presley’s thrilling pursuit of the American Dream, allowing audiences to experience the highs and lows of fame.  In one particular scene, Presley walks through his favorite part of town. With his fame already growing this is an area he is not meant to be in. But Elvis is enamored by this area. The black community – their culture, fashion, and music are all part of his influences.

The scene is a combination of shots and split screens, showing Elvis taking in life, fashion, and music whilst juxtaposing with shots of the white area of town. During this scene Dojo Cat’s Vegas plays and the visual and track come together in a spellbinding way. It’s a moment of great cinema. Throughout the use of music from various artists including Elvis and Austin Butler bring life to the visuals, in an intoxicating way – I found myself wanting more. More songs, more performances just more of everything. This reflects Presley’s determination to please audiences, to sing, to improve continually.

ELVIS
AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

VERDICT

Overall, this movie is a triumph. One that fully captures the addictive nature of fame and the passion Presley had for his music and his fans. The tragic events that plagued him are difficult to watch. The exploitation he endured from Parker, was horrific. But the resounding message of this film is: who was the real Presley? And until this film, I don’t think we knew. We see throughout how lost he becomes, how society’s pressures reduce him to a fragment of the man he could have been.

It emphasizes the message that all those Elvis impersonators that solely bring to life his later years during the Vegas residency reflect nothing more than a caricature. The involvement of the Presley family in the creation of this film means that Baz Luhrmann with his distinctive flair has finally been able to show the world who The King really was. Which is powerful.

Elvis is a resounding success, a fantastic piece of cinema.

 

‘Elvis’ is distributed by Warner Bros. and is playing in cinemas everywhere NOW!

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