As lavish and live wire as its title demands, Baz Luhrmann’s labour of love is a film fit for The King.
A mix of celebration and tragedy, it enhances the legend while leaving audiences in no doubt about just how much Elvis’ genius owed to African American artists. If music biopics are your own greatest hits, you’ll have the best seat in the house. And what a setlist…
Powered by a star-making performance from Austin Butler and with Tom Hanks cast against type as Elvis’ manager/arch manipulator Colonel Tom Parker, Luhrmann’s go-big study of artistic freedom and the gilded cage crams a lot into two and a half hours and leaves a hunger for more – particularly when it comes to the screen time given to Elvis’ relationship with wife Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge). Although you know how the story ends, you’re still hoping for a different outcome.
Given the arc of Elvis’ life, it can be argued that the chapters of a miniseries would have been the best medium to do him justice. Inevitably, that miniseries will be made – but it will have its work cut out to better the history-making moments that Luhrmann magically captures here. The electricity coursing through the best scenes is what the shared big-screen experience is all about.
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“I absolutely believe people want to get out and be together in dark rooms with strangers and with movies,” Luhrmann told RTÉ Entertainment as he geared up for Elvis‘ release.
“Human beings need to be together and they need to unite over storytelling. Elvis Presley, whatever you think of him, what I’ve discovered is he was about bringing people together. And right now, in this pretty dark world, it’s a good thing to unite around a story.”
Time to experience the wonder of him all over again.
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