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Elvis Movie Review: A nondetailed tribute to the King of Rock and Roll- Cinema express

Elvis Movie Review: A nondetailed tribute to the King of Rock and Roll

Elvis is a beautifully captured impersonation of probably the most impersonated personality on the planet

Published: 29th June 2022

Director Baz Luhrmann is back to direction after almost a decade with Elvis and the grandeur and glamours his stories usually exude make the biographical musical drama one of the best-looking biopics we have seen in recent times. But is it a comprehensive story on one of the most distinguishable showmen in the history of entertainment? That's debatable, for sure. 

Cast: Tom Hanks, Austin Butler, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Luke Bracey

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Considering Elvis Presley is one of the most depicted characters on the big screen, Elvis had its work cut out to become an endearing representation of the rockstar. Instead of just sticking to the rise and fall of Elvis, the film looks at the singer and actor (played by a brilliant Austin Butler) from the POV of his infamous manager Col. Tom Parker (the ever-dependable Tom Hanks). Not only do we see how Parker influenced the career and personal life of Elvis, we also learn lesser-known yet shocking details of the colonel. Despite having the Colonel churn out lines like, "We are the same, you and I – two odd, lonely children, reaching for eternity," towards Elvis, the film makes it quite apparent that Elvis was a mere puppet in the hands of the puppeteer who pocketed 50 per cent of everything the rockstar made.

The film takes us back to the old carnival days when Parker was a "Snowman", a term used to define a talent manager who makes sure the money keeps coming in. One fine day, he spots a young white singer whose fascination with the African American music of Memphis' Beale Street culminates into a new style that sends women into a frenzy. When Parker sees people of the opposite gender throw their undergarments onto the stage as a result of Elvis' pulsating and gyrating moves, he knows he has a cash cow in hand. Interestingly, the film itself is designed to feel like a carnival ride with its share of astonishing highs and uncomfortable lows. Despite the difference in everything from their characters to how they perceive the world, both end up becoming conjoined twins of sorts as their success and failures affect them similarly.

The film runs on the highs and lows of this relationship, and it's the addition of real incidents that happen to people around them that makes the film more endearing. Right from the mention of segregation laws, to the introduction of eminent blues personalities like BB King and Arthur Crudup, and the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr, Sharon Tate and Robert Kennedy, it's the real-time events that make us feel closer to the plot. We get to see Elvis' earlier days as a little guy from a god-fearing gospel-singing Christian family and we travel with the King of Rock and Roll through his understanding of music, his marriage to Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge), the collaboration with the International Hotel, his divorce, and subsequent death.

On one end, we have Butler acing the titular role of a kid turning into a man who learns that the father-figure in his life isn't what he claims to be, and on the other, we have Hanks as the shrewd manager. This dichotomy, which causes friction between the characters makes for some of the best scenes in the film.

And of course, what's an Elvis film without his hits? Not only do we get to revisit cult classics like 'Hound Dog', 'Blue Suede Shoes', 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'Tiger Man', but we are also introduced to the events that transpired before their conception. What doesn't really help the film is the jump in years in between. The film has a hefty run time of 159 minutes, but it still feels insufficient when it comes to understanding the performer completely. Elvis also barely scratches the surface of several topics like Black music, segregation, and the political agendas against the icon. Even if the film isn't really about them, the influence of Elvis on that time's music, film and political scene deserve more screentime.

On the whole, Elvis is a beautifully captured impersonation of probably the most impersonated personality on the planet and while it leaves you wishing that it did more justice to the King of Rock and Roll's life, it will surely bowl you over with strong performances and visual appeal. 

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