#CANNES22: “ELVIS” REVIEW
By Amanda Gilmore
Writer-Director Baz Luhrmann takes us on a dazzling ride with the Rock ‘n’ Roll legend.
The Film is told from the perspective of his manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). We are taken through the life of Elvis (Austin Butler) from his humble beginnings to his tragic early passing. Along the way we see the impact, Elvis has had on music, branding and more within the industry.
It comes as no surprise that Luhrmann is the perfect fit for bringing the flair and glamour of Elvis to the big screen. Luhrmann’s Filmmaking style is in full effect as we follow the young boy becoming one of the greatest musicians in history. Tom Parker tells the story of how he made Elvis famous. It’s an odd entry point to a story about the world’s best-selling Solo Artist, considering Tom Parker is believed to be one of the causes of his death. At times it feels like the story didn’t need this narration aspect. However, it serves as a way into the many themes Luhrmann and his Co-Writers Sam Bromell and Craig Pearce explore.
Although this is a story about Elvis, it touches on the Music industry as a whole. Particularly, the behind-the-scenes work. We get to watch as Elvis becomes the first Musician to make women’s emotions run rampant. These scenes are sprinkled throughout and are an absolute delight to watch. Luhrmann captures brilliantly how a little wiggle of Elvis’ hips made women to lose their minds. These moments work thanks to a breakthrough performance from Butler who literally disappears into the icon. Each of the performances throughout is perfectly edited by Jonathan Redmond and Matt Villa, bringing us right into the performance hall.
Further, we watch as Tom Parker was the first Manager to make merchandise for a Musician. Moments like this remind the audience of the impact Elvis had on the industry as a whole. To this day, he was the first to do what Musicians do today. Luhrmann uses non-Elvis Music in the Film to the same effect. There’s one music mash-up that combines Elvis, “Backstreet’s Back” and “Toxic”. Doing this works as a touching tribute to the effect Elvis has on musicians to this day.
At the centre of the story is the toxic relationship between Elvis and Tom Parker. It’s clear from the beginning that he doesn’t have Elvis’ best interests at heart. He looks at him as a bank that will spew-out money. It’s a rare antagonist performance from Hanks who excels as the controlling Tom Parker. He tells Elvis to stop hanging around with the Musicians on Beale Street, stop dancing suggestively on stage, and wear different clothes at his performances. This results in Elvis losing who he is and what made him so beloved.
We see Elvis struggle between who he is and who his Manager is trying to turn him into. It’s mesmerizing to watch Butler portray this legend. He perfectly shows Elvis’ the energetic, alluring performance side and the man off-stage. The one who was struggling with his identity and craved the love he received while on stage.
It’s great watching him alongside Olivia DeJonge who plays Priscilla Presley. These moments show how fame can come in-between what was actual love.
ELVIS showcases some of the greatest performances of the year, including a powerhouse performance from Butler, made glossy by the stylish finishes Luhrmann is known for. It’s a great time at the Cinema while touching upon important moments throughout history. It’s a reminder that Musicians have the ability to make positive changes both within their industry and socially.
Elvis screens at Cannes ’22:
Wed, May 25 at 6:45 PM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE