Baz Luhrmann has created a film that is not only about the myth but also the man. Luhrmann is maybe the most equipped director to take on Elvis the myth, his penchant for the glitter and the pizzazz certainly lend themselves to his hazy Vegas days.
The biggest and best part of Elvis is its central star, Austin Butler, who gives one of the most explosive and charismatic performances of the year. He is able to capture the natural charisma and charm that followed Elvis wherever he went, bringing that suave and sexy attitude and channeling the king of rock that’s certain to gain awards consideration towards the end of the year.
Luhrmann has a unique problem that he deals with in this biopic, that other biopics rarely delve into, in that the man in question is a man of legend. A man who has had his name and stories talked about for generations, so how could you deliver a story that honors both? By playing to his strengths as a director but also finding that inner heartbeat.
Tom Hanks will be the most divisive part of this film for many. His over-the-top performance with a distracting accent and prosthetics will either turn you off or you kind of accept it and settle in. He is larger than life character that fits in well with Luhrmann’s circus act. If that’s not divisive enough for you then Luhrmann’s directing style and frenetic pace should finish the job. Therin lies the beauty of this film, it’s the small moments between Elvis and his mother, and the crazy huge moments full of CGI and Luhrmann’s singular vision coming to life.
It is not all perfect and the runtime will have more than a few people pulling at their collars, the generation that grew up loving and listening to Elvis may not find this interpretation as accessible off the bat, but once you settle into your seat, let Austin Butler croon and own that screen, you know you are in good hands.
4 out of 5