The ever-glittering creative colossal that is Baz Luhrmann, emanates his newest instalment, simply titled ELVIS, and is there really any need for more? Elvis, the legend, can hold a movie on his name alone, so how do you match his grandeur and status? Ask Baz Luhrmann.
Like being slapped and having glitter thrown in your face, ELVIS begins laying down its rules fast. The cinematography is like being whisked through the tornado with Dorothy, and while it does thematically make sense, in the beginning, it is so fast-paced and jarring that it's hard to know where Elvis’s story began. Similar to the styling of Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet (1996), its fast-paced and edgy visual storytelling adds to the drama and the heightened reality of Luhrmann’s Elvis.
Luhrmann is an auteur; he has a specific aesthetic and theatrical style of filmmaking, which wouldn’t ordinarily lend itself to some stories. However, for ELVIS he chose a comic book theme that portrays Colonel Tom Parker as the evil villain, and Elvis as the tragic hero. While it may not be accurate to how he was in real life, Tom Hanks played the villain archetype very well.
Austin Butler is incredible, and he carries this movie. He is so captivating, but also so… Elvis. Not in the way that he accurately depicted Elvis, but in the way that Elvis’s legacy is portrayed visually. While watching this, you will be transfixed and engaged until the very last scene, and Butler’s performance shone through Luhrmann and Catherine Martin’s theatrical and colourful production design. I felt myself looking at Elvis like those girls were in the movie (without the involuntary squealing).
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the music and soundtrack of the film. I was expecting it to be solely Elvis songs, but Elliot Wheeler modernises a majority of the soundtrack, particularly the blues music which influenced Elvis and informed his own sound. Luhrmann’s appreciation for blues music is also commendable and he utilises it effectively, marrying the classic and contemporary sounds perfectly, making ELVIS one of his best to date.
The story is heartfelt, exciting, and sexy. It does what should be done for such an icon in music. The flamboyant and unapologetic depiction of both Elvis and Colonel Tom Parker make ELVIS a cinematic experience. This is what cinema means to me. Luhrmann tells the story of Elvis the legend, whose star was brighter than life itself.