By Neil Durham
WORTH A LOOK?: *****
We’re reminded of Rami Malek’s Oscar-winning turn as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody by Butler’s (pictured above) performance here as the King of Rock’n’Roll.
- Read on for reasons including how this is our favourite film of the year so far
It’s so good that although we’ve seen pictures of him in real life where he looks little like the character he is playing here, he absolutely melts into him here, embodying his spirit in a way that can make the viewer think that they are looking particularly at a young Elvis.
Director Baz Luhrmann’s 140-minute blockbuster flies by in no time and makes you think, especially since he has only won minor Oscars for films Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby despite Strictly Ballroom being some of best work, that Elvis could be at the front of the queue to be garlanded in awards season.
We were alive but not very old when Elvis died and before watching this knew little of his background with a criminal father and alcoholic mother growing up white in a predominantly black neighbourhood with an almost religious reverance for gospel music in particular.
The most entertaining sequence is when Tom Hanks as Elvis’ manager realises the power the star, nicknamed ‘Elvis The Pelvis’, has over women and the occasional man when he starts to gyrate his hips during performance.
What shines through here is how Elvis at his heart loved the authenticity and soul of black music which was often underappreciated at a time of segregation. The fact that the assassinations of both Martin Luther King and President Kennedy feature here and play such a pivotal role is indicative of how important Elvis was.
Hanks’ manager makes for an unreliable narrator but it is interesting how he never questions his charge’s taste in music. His flaw is his love of gambling which overexposes Elvis to his craving to be loved by live audiences.
This is also a movie which never shys away from big issues and the arrival of The Jacksons in Vegas can’t help but remind of the similarities between Elvis’ death and Michael Jackson.
Elvis has a brilliant soundtrack, is a thought-provoking and beautifully realised film with a superlative central performance at its very heart and its Oscar competitors will have to go some to top it