Elvis Presley: A reverend once told me, “When things that are too dangerous to say, ‘sing’.”
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writer(s): Baz Luhrmann, Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, Jeremy Doner
Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge

Synopsis: The life of American music icon Elvis Presley, from his childhood to becoming a rock and movie star in the 1950s while maintaining a complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

Baz Luhrmann, an Australian film director, has a visually stunning aesthetic style that distinguishes him as one of the most captivating filmmakers globally. As an auteur, he is one of my favorites. Luhrmann’s approach is characterized by excess, color, energy, music, and a bombastic tone that can be polarizing. His style is both unmistakable and unparalleled among contemporary filmmakers. Lightning-fast editing and cinematography, complex romantic subplots, and plots that move at a breakneck pace are features of every Luhrmann film. His use of camera, music, and flamboyant characters adds to the uniqueness of his vision.

I especially love his first trilogy titled ‘The Red Curtain Trilogy,’ which explores themes of heartbreak, music, melancholy, and tragedy. Luhrmann’s technique of incorporating theatrical conventions to elevate films to spectacular and dizzying heights is referred to as “red curtain cinema.” This method is evident in the trilogy’s three films: Strictly Ballroom (1993), William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet (1996), and Moulin Rouge (2001). Luhrmann’s trademark use of bright colors, fast-paced camera cuts and zooms, and bold costumes are all essential elements of his films. They help to underscore the themes and motifs that Luhrmann considers crucial in each of his works.

Growing up being a film enthusiast living in Melbourne, I instinctively identified Baz Luhrmann as a director worth keeping an eye on. Luhrmann, an Australian film director, producer, writer, and actor, has worked across various mediums, including film, television, opera, theatre, and music. He is known by many as a contemporary auteur due to his distinct style and extensive involvement in the writing, directing, design, and musical aspects of his projects. As the most commercially successful Australian director, four of his films are included in the top ten highest-grossing Australian films worldwide.

As soon as I heard that Baz Luhrmann was directing an ‘Elvis’ biopic, I was thrilled. In early 2020, renowned actor Tom Hanks revealed that he had contracted COVID-19 while filming ‘Elvis’ in Australia, which was one of the first mainstream news stories about the virus that would go on to affect everyone’s lives that year. Despite this setback, filming continued, and Luhrmann’s vision came to fruition when he released ‘Elvis‘ to the world last year.

Like other musical biopics such as 2018’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ and 2019’s ‘Rocketman,’ ‘Elvis‘ was a huge box office hit and went on to gross more than $276 million in theaters.

Elvis‘ is a biographical film that centers around the illustrious career of the iconic American singer and actor, Elvis Presley. The movie portrays Presley’s life, from his childhood to his rise to fame as a rock and movie star in the 1950s, all while navigating a complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (portrayed in a campy, over-the-top performance by the great Tom Hanks).

Austin Butler delivers a tour de force performance as Elvis Presley in the biographical film. Butler flawlessly transforms into the music legend, earning widespread praise from critics and audiences alike. He expertly captures Presley’s signature swagger, flamboyant stage presence, powerful vocals, and vulnerable, introspective moments.

Butler worked extensively with Luhrmann to perfect Presley’s iconic strut and movements, and underwent rigorous vocal training to master his singing style. The result is a truly impressive and authentic portrayal of one of the most iconic musicians of all time.

Beyond his physical transformation, Butler effectively conveyed the emotional complexity of Presley’s life, delving into his struggles with his manager, drug use, and complicated relationships. He brought a depth and nuance to the character that made him feel like a fully realized human being rather than a mere caricature.

By skillfully navigating Presley’s personal demons, Butler’s performance adds a layer of realism to the portrayal of this beloved cultural icon. It is a testament to his talent as an actor and his dedication to the role.

Overall, Butler’s performance in “Elvis” stands out as one of the best performances of 2022, showcasing his exceptional skill as an actor and his unwavering dedication to the role. He not only expertly captured the spirit of one of the most iconic musicians of all time but also brought new insights and perspectives to his life and legacy.

By bringing Presley to life on the big screen with such authenticity and nuance, Butler’s portrayal will undoubtedly go down in cinematic history as one of the most memorable and impactful performances of our time.

The film delves into the life and music of Elvis Presley, offering a fresh perspective on the music legend through the lens of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The film explores the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker over two decades, spanning from Presley’s initial rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, set against the backdrop of America’s evolving cultural landscape and the loss of its innocence.

At the heart of Presley’s journey is one of the most influential and significant people in his life, Priscilla Presley (portrayed by Olivia DeJonge). Through her character, the film offers a unique insight into Presley’s personal life and the effect it had on his career and legacy.

The film’s most compelling storyline explores the tumultuous relationship between Elvis and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Parker began managing Presley in the mid-1950s and played a significant role in his rise to fame. However, their relationship was far from a typical business arrangement, and behind the scenes, things were often less than perfect.

Parker, an illegal immigrant who had changed his name and may not have even held a U.S. passport, had a mysterious tendency to reject numerous concert and tour offers for Elvis worldwide. Some speculate that this may have been the reason for his shady background. Furthermore, Parker meddled in Elvis’s personal life, including his marriage, family affairs, and film career, all in the pursuit of profit. Unfortunately, this behavior took a significant toll on Elvis’s mental state and ultimately led to his downfall.

The combination of Luhrmann’s visually stunning aesthetic and Butler’s exceptional performance elevates this music biopic into a timeless classic that transcends the genre.


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