“Elvis”, Baz Luhrmann’s blockbuster about the king of rock, will monopolize the looks at the Cannes Film Festival this Wednesday, while the French Claire Denis competes for the Palme d’Or with “Stars at noon”, set in Nicaragua.
Seven days after the spectacular premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick”, the young (30 years old) and little-known American actor Austin Butler will have the difficult task of competing with Tom Cruise.
Butler plays Elvis Presley in Luhrmann’s film (“Moulin Rouge,” “The Great Gatsby”), which spans two decades covering the rise, rise and fall of the king of rock, who died in 1977 at 42 years old.
To support him on the red carpet, Butler will be able to count among others on the Oscar winner Tom Hanks, who plays the manager of the “king”, the mysterious “Colonel” Tom Parker in the film.
The film will be released in June in several countries.
Aside from a lavish three-minute trailer, little is known about “Elvis,” except that Butler dares to perform the musician’s songs with his own voice.
Californian, with a good physical resemblance to the Elvis of the late 1950s, Butler is a classic product of the Disney team.
He has participated in a dozen films, including “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” by Quentin Tarantino or “The Dead Don’t Die” by Jim Jarmusch.
It was the actor Denzel Washington who recommended the Australian Luhrmann to give Butler a chance for this role, according to the American site Entertainment Weekly.
“I received a video of this young man, tearfully performing ‘Unchained Melody’ (a song that Presley covered) and I said to myself, what is this?” Luhrmann explained.
“And then I got a message from Denzel Washington, who I didn’t know. He said, ‘I just worked with this guy, I’ve never seen someone so committed.'”
Butler rehearsed for a year to imitate Elvis’s velvet voice.
“Elvis” arouses expectation because Luhrmann is a director who is not used to being daunted by giants of history, whether it be Shakespeare, who dared to cover “Romeo and Juliet, or “The Great Gatsby”, one of the pinnacles of literature American.
The 2h39 film is “an intense experience,” said Elvis’s granddaughter, Riley Keough, at Cannes. Her grandmother, Priscilla Presley, the singer’s widow, has also praised her.
Meanwhile, the race for the Palme d’Or is in its final meters.
“Stars at noon” is based on a 1986 novel by Denis Johnson. The film follows in the footsteps of a mysterious businesswoman (played by the young Margaret Qualley) during the Sandinista revolution.
She is accompanied in the cast by Joe Alwyn, as an American reporter with whom she has an affair.
Claire Denis is one of the five women aspiring this year for the Palme d’Or, which will be awarded on Saturday by the jury chaired by Vincent Lindon.
The French filmmaker won the award for best direction at the last Berlinale with “Avec amour et acharnement”.
Another competing film that will be presented this Wednesday is “Leila’s Brothers”, an Iranian feature film by Saeed Roustayi.