Almost 45 years on from The King of Rock and Roll’s death and the first-ever cinematic biopic of his life has finally arrived. Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley movie has premiered in Cannes today to high praise from the critics. Here’s what they had to say about the new movie starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks.
THE GOOD REVIEWS
A fizzy, delirious, impishly energized, compulsively watchable 2-hour-and-39-minute fever dream — a spangly pinwheel of a movie that converts the Elvis saga we all carry around in our heads into a lavishly staged biopic-as-pop-opera.
Luhrmann’s colourful house style can be frantic and shallow, but his desire to get our knickers in a twist, here, feels honest-to-god urgent. This is the most substantial thing he’s done since Romeo + Juliet.
Butler nails the moves, the mannerisms, the soulful voice and somehow even channels the icon’s charisma. When girls scream at him in the film’s electrifying musical sequences, you wonder how much acting was required
While you won’t find all that much truth in Baz Luhrmann’s cradle-to-grave dramatisation of his life, the Australian filmmaker has delivered something far more compelling: an American fairytale.
It’s the most impeccably styled and blaringly gaudy thing you’ll see all year, and all the more fun for it.
You can’t help falling in love with this shake, rattle and roll through the life of the biggest star the world has ever seen.
Luhrmann has never been an accomplished dramatist. He has the instincts of a pop video supremo. And in pop god Elvis Presley he may have found his perfect subject.
To complain that “Elvis” is basically a compilation of musical-biopic conventions is a bit like complaining about a greatest-hits album; it also misses… [Luhrmann’s] ability to suffuse clichés with sincerity, energy and feeling.
Sometimes Elvis feels like a lost Oliver Stone film from his daring 1990s heyday: a big-canvas exploration of debauched American appetites.
THE MIDDLING REVIEWS
There’s enough energy and flash… to overcome most nit-picking, and Butler throws himself into a performance that’s wildly physical but never cartoonish or disrespectful.
The Hollywood Reporter
If the writing too seldom measures up to the astonishing visual impact, the affinity the director feels for his showman subject is both contagious and exhausting.
Baz Luhrmann’s trad but terrifically enjoyable ‘EP’ biopic has swagger to spare, and a star-making central performance from Austin Butler as the undisputed King of Rock ’n’ Roll.
Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis is a wild ride clearly made with a big hunk o’ love for its subject, and that zeal for capturing Presley’s humanity, both by its director and its star, outweighs the film’s excesses and shortcomings in the end.
Elvis Presley death: Graceland upstairs still ‘as he left it’ [ELVIS DEATH]
Elvis ex Linda Thompson recalls King’s webbed toes and bedroom secrets [LINDA THOMPSON]
Elvis wedding: Last minute snub left Memphis Mafia members furious [ELVIS WEDDING]
THE BAD REVIEWS
Incurious yet frantic, Luhrmann’s spangly epic is off-key – and Austin Butler flounders in those blue suede shoes
It finds so little reason for Presley’s life to be the stuff of a Baz Luhrmann movie that the equation ultimately inverts itself, leaving us with an Elvis Presley movie about Baz Luhrmann. They both deserve better.
Elvis is released in UK cinemas on June 24, 2022.