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Elvis review: Austin Butler is quite a revelation in this befitting ode to 'King of Rock & Roll'

Austin Butler's moving performance will last a very long time among the audience. We have to credit Baz Luhrmann for bringing Elvis Presley's magnificent and heartbreaking biography to the big screen with such amazing conviction and admiration.

3.5rating
  • Aishwarya Vasudevan

Last Updated: 09.26 AM, Jun 23, 2022

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Elvis review: Austin Butler is quite a revelation in this befitting ode to 'King of Rock & Roll'
Austin Butler in and as Elvis
Story:

Through the lens of his complex connection with his mysterious manager, Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis' (Austin Butler) life is depicted in this truly visual drama (Tom Hanks). According to Parker, the movie explores the complicated relationship between the two over 20 years, from Presley's ascent to prominence to his extraordinary stardom, against the backdrop of America's changing cultural environment and loss of youth. One of the important and influential figures in Elvis Presley's life, Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge), is at the centre of that voyage.

Review:

A man who lived his life only to entertain billions of people across the globe was known as the "King of Rock and Roll" for the very right reasons. Director Baz Luhrmann took the charge and reasoned in the most elaborative way. How! Elvis is yet another biopic based on the greatest artist on Earth, and it surely must have been challenging. The only fear Presley had was of being forgotten after he was long gone. Well, that can never be the case as the legend lives on in the hearts of every generation who is exposed to music.

As most of the biopics produced, Elvis also starts with a narrator, this time the legendary actor Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, who is infamously known as Presley’s manager. The film is through his lens as to how he "used" the singer and how the latter achieved superstardom after their collaboration.

Elvis Presley is only known to millennials and Generation Z through his music, movies, and documentaries because he died at the age of 42. However, Luhrmann left no stone unturned in touching upon the life and times of Presley to showcase his immense and natural talent, which he exuded only with his sheer presence in a room.

Austin Butler, who is quite a revelation, embodies the whole body language of Presley, and as the film progresses, he proves then and there why he is the aptest choice for the biopic.

The costumes and makeup also play a great part, but it can't be taken to a pitch-perfect level if the artist playing is not good enough. But that's not the case with Butler, who understood the assignment and nailed it beautifully.

The film rides entirely on him, and at certain moments we long for his presence on the screen, even when other artists take up the frame. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Hanks must have been another greater challenge, but it seems like Butler put on his blinders and got thoroughly into the skin of his character as Presley.

One of the biggest trademarks of the artist was the wiggling of his legs. However, watching it on the big screen and the reactions it gets from the masses will leave you shocked. The immense craziness of the fans and the naivety of Presley provide cues for gasping moments throughout the film.

The highlights of Elvis' life are not just about his life but also show how art has been politicised for decades now. Presley faced objections and also a jail term for promoting "vulgarity" with his live performances. It also touches upon racism as it is known to be the only "white" boy to grow up in a black neighbourhood.

The first half explores more of the backstory and the continuous concerts, some controversial, wherein he performed non-stop. It kind of takes a dip as the musical mess occurs frequently in those sequences.

But, in the latter half, Luhrmann takes Elvis to the next level. There's more content story-wise in the final hour, which explores deeply how everything was wrong internally despite him living on stage and doing what he is known for: live performance.

There are more controversial aspects which are not touched upon in the two-hour-39-minute long film. However, they might have been cut from the 124 minutes, as it's being said Luhrmann made a four-hour long film.

But was the editing crisp and precise? Not entirely. Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond cut the film in such a way that after every important chapter of the film is completed, the after-effects are shown mostly in the montages of newspaper clippings, flashing of the cameras and more.

The film only works because of the incredible performance by Butler, who has been just there in several series, namely The Carrie Diaries and The Shannara Chronicles. He played Tex Watson in his last movie outing, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

It's opportunities like these that give a sense of make or break for an actor. But, kudos to Butler, as he has totally arrived, and hopefully there's no turning back for him from now on.

Way to go, Butler!

Be it the pelvic thrust, that smouldering look, or the balanced way of dialogue delivery, the actor picked it up beautifully and delivered it effortlessly. We have to give it to the cinematographer, Mandy Walker, for capturing those moments and making the audience scream with happiness, as people did back then during his live performances.

Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker gives a good laugh with his villainous act (yes, in a good way). The actor, who needs no introduction in any genre, given his body of work, takes up the role in such a way that nobody can complain about him.

The actor was supposed to play Butler's sidekick, but he ended up playing the parallel lead. Well, it's not a problem, but so many incidents involving Presley which have been away from the press could have been touched upon even in the minutest way.

Well, as I mentioned earlier, we wonder if it would have been a part of the four-hour cut of Elvis.

It's a musical biopic, and the songs cannot be ignored! We see the inception and the conceptualised versions of the popular Presley song, starting from That's All Right, Mama to Unchained Melody. Along with that, Elliott Wheeler brings in a more upbeat version of the song, giving it more of a pop vibe along with Presley's "Rock and Roll."

There's Vegas by Doja Cat and also King and I by Eminem, CeeLo Green, and Tupelo Shuffle by Swae Lee and Diplo. It's like you foot your tap, get emotional, gasp, and then Butler's wiggly moves. The film makes your every body part move to the rhythmic tunes that Presley brought about in this world.

Presley will make you fall in love with Butler and maybe give you a reason to revisit the Spotify playlist of the King of Rock and Roll.

Verdict:

Austin Butler delivers a stirring performance that will stay in your mind for a very long time. We have to give it to Baz Luhrmann's incredible conviction and admiration for Elvis Presley for translating the illustrious and gut-wrenching story of the artist on screen.

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