Director: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge
Baz Luhrmann has only directed five major feature films: Romeo+Juliet, Moulin Rouge, Australia, The Great Gatsby, and Elvis. He started strong around 2000, with a wicked style that was easily recognizable, but then mostly fell off, with films we simply didn’t care for. But I’m excited to say that Baz is back in a big way, taking on one of the biggest legends we have ever known. His bizarre talent mixed with the pure spectacle of Elvis gives us this surprising film, one that not only looks incredible but is also one of the very best of the whole year.
This is the colorful true story of Elvis Presley, the boy from Memphis who didn’t know where he belonged, but ultimately learned that his home was in our hearts. Mixing white country music with Black rhythm and blues, Elvis created something new, a mix of both segregated lanes, setting the world on fire in the process. His outlandish dance moves caused a sensation, but his voice caused him to become a star, one that burned bright and quick. Those around him sabotaged his life, but his talent was all his own, and his gift for music he gave to us unconditionally.
This is about as good a biopic as you are going to see. Well, mostly. It’s colorful, it’s fast, it’s full up, and it paints a very vivid picture, sometimes wonderful and sometimes heartbreaking. Baz knew what to do, but Butler is the real star, rising to the occasion in a way that’s simply transformative, and not to be forgotten or ignored. The real problem is Hanks, who plays the villain well, and his character is detestable, but it’s such a caricature that it becomes a distraction, taking the focus from Elvis when there’s really nowhere else it needs to be. Still, this film is magical and fun and frustrating, a real experience and something to chat about, as well as a real competitor at this year’s Oscars.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆