A new spin on an old story
If you recall where you were when you first heard the news that Elvis died, this movie is for you. And if you only know Elvis through your mother or grandmother, it’s time you learned why they never threw those vinyl records away.
While there have been other movies that addressed the life and death of Elvis Presley, most biopics traveled down the familiar road of “Young boy becomes overnight singing sensation—living on the road, sandwiched between the adrenaline of music, drugs, women, and loneliness.” Another life rocketing to stardom, only to be shot down too early in life.
But ELVIS, the 2022 film by director Baz Luhrmann is another story…
If the name, Luhrmann sounds familiar to you, it may be because you caught one of his other films, including MOULIN ROUGE! and the 2013 adaptation of THE GREAT GATSBY. Both of these stylish films took a creative spin on the telling of a classic tale by adding modern music, dialog, and editing.
This same approach has been applied to the telling of the story of Elvis Presley, this time focusing on the dynamics between Presley and his manager Colonel Parker, portrayed by Austin Butler and Tom Hanks. If you’re old enough to recall the news stories at the time, you’re familiar with the story of Parker taking advantage of his young inexperienced client, but it’s also likely that you never realized the depths of his manipulation and destruction of a young man who put all his trust in him.
While Butler’s portrayal is natural and blends seamlessly in the stylish storytelling by Luhrmann, Hanks has the unfortunate role of playing a character painted with broad strokes and pigeonholed into the role of villain. All that was missing was Hanks stroking a cartoon mustache while throwing back an evil laugh. And while Luhrmann’s editing works for the most part, the many metaphors throughout are as subtle as a jackhammer.
We all know how the story of Elvis Presley ends, and while this rendition of ELVIS isn’t without flaws, it breathes new life on a sad story. The ending, showing actual footage from one of Presley’s last concert performances is, by itself, worth the price of admission.
ELVIS is nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Lead Actor, and Editing. ELVIS can now be rented on Amazon Prime.