While Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” will have you feeling it’s 159 minute running time (2 hours and 39 minutes), you can’t help but be amazed by the director’s visual flare.
The biopic explores the life and music of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler), seen through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks).
The story delves into the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America.
The biopic is a visual buffet for the eyes.
It’s vibrant, full of colour and includes shots that add a lot of scope and grandeur to the film, which is impressive given that the movies doesn’t feel like it loses any of its intimacy.
It adds to the latest wave of musical biopic films that have been made, and it may be on the strongest one really delving into the intricacies of Presley’s life.
The running time of the film is possibly the one thing that detracts from how visual stunning it is as, just like a buffet, by the end you may have a headache due to the barrage of colourful images that could feel overwhelming for some.
If there is one section of the film that could have been cut down upon is the time spent on the performer’s film career as audiences by that point already understand the dynamic and tension in Presley’s relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
Tom Hanks will certainly earn praise for his role as Colonel Tom Parker. While I was personally sceptic of his accent in the trailers, which is certainly an artistic choice, Hank’s commitment to the role cannot be understated.
He delivers a villain that is calculated, greedy and whose need to feed his gambling addiction has him crossing any moral and ethical line to make sure he can keep his pockets full.
Alongside his stellar performance is the star-making one of Austin Butler. Butler starts off the film coming across very generic, which may just be an intentional choice of the writing, but soon after viewers will find themselves enamoured with the actor.
He gives his all to the role which, as reported in the press took quite the toll on the actor, and having watched the movie, it is understandable.
He gives his all in the musical performances within the movie and with how Luhrmann tells Presley’s tale, you can really feel the weight of how much fame costs.
With the director stating that a four-hour cut of the movie exists, there is an argument to be made that perhaps instead of a movie, the biopic would have worked better as mini-series.
While that would have been great, “Elvis” does play on a movie screen in a way than can only be experienced in the cinema.
The movie also touches on Presley’s cultural appropriation which is still a very large presence over his legacy, and director Baz Luhrmann does the movie a huge service by not shying away from it.
He manages to touch on how big of an influence of Black culture and music had on the performer, while also still acknowledging just how much star power Presley had, and how he managed to get to such levels of fame.
It is difficult to say if the film has enough power in the engine to carry it into the awards season at the end of the year, but it is definitely a fun and visually epic biopic.
If you don’t like Luhrmann’s previous films, then “Elvis” won’t be the film to change your mind, but if you love a film that has a grand visual scope, uses vibrant colours, and includes songs you can sing along to, then “Elvis” is a must-watch. — IOLNews