Viewed – 23 December 2022 Blu-ray
Any movie about the ‘king of rock and roll’ for me is an enticing prospect. He lead a very colourful, demanding and extravagant life. When I heard Baz Lurhman, director of Strictly Ballroom and Romeo & Juliet was taking on the task, I thought… what a great fit. This stars Tom Hanks as Elvis’ long-time manager Colonel Tom Parker, who narrates the story, depicting Elvis’ life from his perspective.
Immediately Lurhman’s overwhelming style is showcased, and it takes some getting used to, with frantic edits, a rush of images & music. However once the movie settles into it’s story, I found myself getting absorbed. I’ve always appreciated Elvis’ music but watching this I discovered how little I really knew about him. Therefore this was an education. Lurhman for the most part sticks closely to the facts, whilst throwing in Colonel Parker’s observations for some artistic license. The movie delves into the prejudice & racial tensions of the 50s & 60s and much of the push back to Elvis’ style and charisma, whilst still showing his vulnerabilities and his personal battles. Austin Butler as Elvis is a revelation, capturing that cheeky sexiness but also delivering both the king’s on stage showmanship and his back stage struggles. He’s really excellent and at times uncanny. Less could be said for Hanks; one of my all time favourite actors who’s performance was a little too ‘caricature’ for my liking.
Overall, I found this a deeply fascinating, powerful and visually arresting portrayal of probably the most iconic musician of all time. This pretty much nails everything; the timeless music, the setting and especially the impact the man had on the world. A must watch.