With incredible costuming and a remarkable lead performance, Gwenllian Page-Gibby praises Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic.
Having been an avid Elvis Presley fan since childhood, I was among the naysayers more than prepared to judge the film before seeing it. So, walking into the cinema with a Scrooge-like cynicism, I expected a flamboyant, overly comical portrayal of Elvis in Vegas and little to no plot. But, as the story wound on, I was entranced by the magic of ‘The King’. Luhrmann had not only resurrected Elvis but thrust him into the public consciousness once more. And, like a 1950s teenager, I was mesmerised by Butler’s performance and reincarnation of ‘Elvis the Pelvis’.
Tom Hanks successfully portrays Parker as a villain so unabashedly heinous that an evil moustache twirl would not have been out of character
Baz Luhrmann has created a visually stunning collage of Elvis Presley’s life, cleverly cut in a cartoonish style to imitate Presley’s hero status (and adoration for Captain Marvel Jr.). This superhero comparison does, however, make his child-like naivety and plight to fly ever more heart-breaking, with the infamous Colonel Tom Parker (the film’s anti-hero narrator) metaphorically clipping his wings. With a vaguely European accent, Tom Hanks successfully portrays Parker as a villain so unabashedly heinous that an evil moustache twirl would not have been out of character. While somewhat theatrical, I believe Hanks intended to depict Parker’s manipulations as shamelessly fickle, given the man was known for his outright cunning.
It would be remiss not to praise the costuming of this modern-day epic. Luhrmann’s wife, acclaimed costume director Catherine Martin, is responsible for producing the film’s colossal 9,000 costumes. From his iconic caped suits to those worn earlier in his career, all looked impeccably crafted and period accurate. Seeing the soulful inspiration behind some of Elvis’ earlier fits alongside his clear admiration for and inspiration from African-American music was touching. Elvis’ compassion for the plight of black Americans is an inspiring reflection of his upbringing and a sadly rare quality of the time. Likewise, Butler’s almost virtuosic recreation of the 1968 protest song “If I Can Dream” has shot back into the charts, warming the hearts of the millions who have seen the film.
To compare frames from the film and genuine footage, it is astounding that the leading actor has been able to recreate mannerisms and movements to a tee
Austin Butler, born the day after Elvis’ death, could quite literally be the second coming of Elvis’ spirit. Butler wholly embodied The King’s charisma and charm with his deepened voice, iconic black quiff, and signature bright suits. Having lost his mother at the same age as Elvis, Butler did justice to the powerful grief, acting superbly and providing a profoundly layered performance. To compare frames from the film and genuine footage, it is astounding that the leading actor has been able to recreate mannerisms and movements to a tee––let’s hope Butler gives Elvis the Oscar he never had!