Suspicious Minds: “Elvis” (2022)


HE’S GOT THE MOVES: Austin Butler’s remarkable feat of mimicry in inhabiting the essence of the public Elvis Presley is a star turn that recalls one of the original thrills of attending film in the days before even the most acclaimed “actors” were reduced to spandex garbed one-dimensional comic book pin-ups posing in front of green screens. But, is his achievement sufficient to overcome the relentless tide of gaudy distraction that is the hallmark of Baz Luhrmann?

     “Elvis”  (2022)

      Is it possible to know even less about a prominent cultural icon after viewing a major motion pictureelvisOS about them than before seeing that film? This is one of the lingering problems with Baz Luhrmann’s hopelessly frenetic biopic, “Elvis”. 

   It might have been more illuminating (though less commercially expedient to be sure) had Luhrmann  titled the film “Parker”, as the unrelenting fascination with Elvis Presley’s notoriously shady career manager certainly takes the bulk of the attention from the eponymous rock legend. Luhrmann’s penchant for what might be charitably labeled a flexible adhesion to historic accuracy (most prominent in, but certainly not limited to, his anachronistic use of musical materials) may not be as problematic in a fictional context, but opens a considerable can of worms in a cinematic genre which is already predisposed to outrageous yet underwhelming fictionalization toward its subjects.

    If a usefully representative film biography is already facing an uphill battle against the predominant theory of factual filmmaking, which decrees that truth is best served with melodramatic invention, then in the case of “Elvis”, the life of the legendary performer faces insurmountable odds against the siren’s lure of meretricious pageantry.  Filtering even (what should be) the most intimate and introspective…

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in Austin Butler, Baz Luhrmann, biography, Elvis Presley, Movies, music, Musicals, Tom Hanks, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Suspicious Minds: “Elvis” (2022)

  1. beetleypete says:

    I won’t be watching this. Hanks is not realy my cup of tea, and I will always remember Kurt Russell as Elvis from the 1979 TV film. But mainly because I was never a fan of Presley as an entertainer, and have little sympathy for the excesses he indulged in that brought on his death.
    Best wishes, J. Lee Lewis.

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