Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Austin Butler voices Elvis in the production
"Where Luhrmann and Butler score are in the concert sequences in which the King truly comes alive." | Photo: Warner Bros

By choosing to tell the story of Elvis from the point of view his manager Colonel Parker (portrayed with a certain greasy unctuousness by Tom Hanks) director Baz Luhrmann might have been expected to deliver more than just a stylish biopic.

Parker reflects on his long time relationship with the King over some 20 years. This former circus promoter landed lucky by happening on the singer at the very start of his career - and he was able to control the impressionable youngster (played by Austin Butler) and mould him in to becoming a gyrating sensation.

Copy picture

The Presley phenomenon is something to behold, whether bewitching his legion of fans, irritating the guardians of morality or falling in love with his wife Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge) as well as coping later with his own particular demons.

As is often the case with Luhrmann the style of which there is plenty - including fabulous costumes and production design to evoke the decade from the 1950s to the 1970s, - gets in the way of the substance and by the end of it all we’re still no closer to finding out who the real Elvis is.

Where Luhrmann and Butler score are in the concert sequences in which the King truly comes alive with such familiar hits as Jailhouse Rock, Blue Suede Shoes and Suspicious Minds.

That the production will soar to be one of 2022’s biggest box office earners is a no-brainer but it is likely to leave even the moderately demanding spectator feeling unsatisfied over its lack of depth and insight. And it does go on a bit. Still worth treasuring for the lavishness of the production numbers, Butler’s smouldering sexiness and Hanks milking Parker’s egregious personality for all its worth.

Reviewed on: 26 May 2022
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Elvis packshot
Biopic about the star and his manager.

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Writer: Baz Luhrmann, Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce

Starring: Tom Hanks, Austin Butler, Dacre Montgomery, Kodi Smit-McPhee, David Wenham, Luke Bracey, Olivia DeJonge, Richard Roxburgh, Xavier Samuel, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Natasha Bassett, Kate Mulvany, Elizabeth Cullen, Mark Leonard Winter, Chaydon Jay

Year: 2022

Runtime: 159 minutes

Country: US, Australia


Cannes 2022

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