Criticism of “Elvis”, Baz Luhrmann returns to his best form with the biopic of the King of Rock

Saturday July 02, 2022

The story is narrated by Colonel Tom Parker (a notable Tom Hanks), representative and responsible for the death of the rock star. He is not spoilers because, as usual in Luhrmann’s films, in a clipper prologue he summarizes everything that will come later, and even the narrator himself introduces himself in this way: “I am the one who gave Elvis to the world, although some will accuse me of his death”.

But Baz Luhrmann cares little about the truth of the facts, which ultimately will be judged by the viewer, but the visual and sound elements to “orchestrate” his new blockbuster. The Australian director has just screwed up ugly with The Get Down, the canceled series he did for Netflix, and this film is his big comeback. Like Elvis (Austin Butler) when he loses the compass of his career due to censorship (for being ahead of his time), the director of The Great Gatsby (The Great Gatsby, 2013) returns to the stage with all his style.

Success and tragedy, heaven and hell, are the extremes through which Elvis Presley swarms in the film. In the humble home of his childhood we see him running -in a zenithal aerial shot- from the brothel to the church, one place meters from the other and with similar rituals that the little artist takes influence for his exotic movements.

In the same way as Luhrmann, Elvis understands that he cannot go back halfway because his essence lies in stepping out of the norm, in the natural rebellion that characterizes him. The film uses three moments to express the protagonist’s need to be himself, in the show in Texas, in the Christmas special and in the intercontinental hotel in Las Vegas.

His fight will be against his representative, the other great figure in this story. Tom Hanks makes up a despicable character like few times in his career. A manipulator, cheat, fraud businessman, who manages with his resources to constantly deceive his impulsive artist.

But Elvis (2022) is also the recent history of the United States. The script skillfully contextualizes the singer’s rise and fall from grace with the death of Martin Luther King or Kennedy, the Vietnam War and the hippie movement. The world changes in full career of Elvis and he with the world.

Luhrmann uses the image as a canvas to draw on. The images follow one after another, with overlays, different styles ranging from cartoons to photo collages. Everything serves to narrate with a frenetic montage and Elvis’s songs intelligently placed in the plot to advance the story with his lyrics.

Elvis is the great return of Luhrmann, overwhelms but without upsetting the viewer, distracts but without losing the thread of the story, entertains with a story resolved from the beginning but without ever boring.

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