Forget everything you know about Elvis and be prepared to think again when you watch Baz Luhrmann’s epic new biopic chronicling Elvis Presley’s too short life.
Thankfully there is no mention of hamburgers on toilets, very few drug references and none of the cheese usually connected with the impersonators and cabaret acts we associate with Elvis today. Instead, you will get a glimpse of the musical genius, the talent, the creator and even the political activist that really defined Elvis’ era. He was a trailblazer for modern culture popularizing guy-liner, jumpsuits and statement glasses. And there is evidence to suggest he was an early victim of cancel culture.
The story is narrated by Colonel Tom Parker played by Tom Hanks – looking very different to how we usually see him. The prosthetics are successfully used to create a larger-than-life music promoter who worked with Elvis his whole career with tragic consequences.
Austin Butler stars as the lead portraying Elvis as the heartbreakingly sexy, cool, and charismatic entertainer. He sings all the young Elvis songs exceptionally well and it makes you question which scenes are archive footage and which are acted. A talent to look out for.
Whilst it is a biopic of sorts, it isn’t linear and it tears through a cacophony of noise, using music from different genres, generations and styles as is typical of Luhrmann’s creations. Surprisingly, you will find the likes of Doja Cat, Eminem and Maneskin on the soundtrack along with Butler, Presley and others.
Every scene is impactful, there are no fillers here and it is an assault on the senses via music, graphics, archive footage and even animation. It is exhausting and overstimulating, but you come away feeling satisfied that nothing was missed out and your time wasn’t wasted on any unnecessary scenes.
However, the overwhelming feeling you get when you leave after the closing credits is that of sadness that we were not part of the Elvis era. Luhrmann though with the blessing of Presley’s family has done an honourable job of exposing us to a taste of what it might have been like.
Written by Sarah Canning