A look into the early life of Elvis Presley, his rise to super stardom and the troubles along the way. All of which is very much linked to his manager Colonel Tom Parker. Caught in a trap . . .
Our story pretty much starts at the end in terms of seeing Elvis struggling on stage and Parker claiming that he must get on stage. Then we are taken on the journey through flashback form and meet that point at a later part of the film and then move past that, which was a pretty ok way to do it all. I guess it doesn’t really matter in the sense of it moving from start to finish considering we all knew how it was going to end.
With that it really had to be engaging between those times and I can happily say that I found myself in a rather emotional state at the end of the film. The change from film to video was super impressive and made me feel just utterly low and sad (but I see that in a good way to how powerful that scene was) something I was not expecting considering I knew he died.
The early years were seen to show that Elvis had been living in the black community and picked up his love for soul and gospel music from that time, having a close friendship to BB King and my god the way the songs were put into the film at this stage were truly breathtaking with some outstanding vocals on display. It did raise a lot of questions that I would then research after the film, as given the stealing of songs from the black charts to the mainstream which were seen as the white charts in those times did Elvis just steal the songs and transform them to rock and roll? That was what it made me think about when watching those scenes.
We are given a lot of Colonel Tom Parker and everything is told through his perspective in terms of making it all about him, which immediately shows how bad of a manager he was from start to finish. Trying to claim he cared about “the boy” when all he cared about really was how much money he could make from him. I am a little bit on the fence with Tom Hanks’ performance, great to see him take on a villain role but the accent was strange and all over the place was he trying to be Irish at one point?
Everything positive though is thanks to Austin Butler and his truly outstanding performance, moving through the decades as he got older and really taking on each and every scene in a unique manner. It was never going to be easy to cast Elvis and considering we have seen a lot of more funny impersonators over the years and this being a much more serious film. It was essential for the lead to be good and damn Butler is outstanding, capturing the different natures and the downward spiral of the decline phase. Which was difficult to watch, seeing that at one stage he didn’t really seem to even drink. To then hit the pills and drugs hard after being exhausted was so tough.
Baz Luhrmann has a very unique style to his films and this one was no different in that sense. We have all seen plenty of biopics about musicians which all seem to really follow the same format (I mean it is hard when the majority of them have had issues with drink and drugs) but he attempts to change that a little bit with the moving cameras, the intense on stage close up shots and making that feel more gritty than spectacular. That worked ever so well for some scenes it has to be said.
I guess it was a rather bold way to tell the story about Elvis and with it being told through the eyes of Colonel Tom Parker, the man who claimed to have found Elvis and made him what he became a superstar. But with that he also made himself a lot of money and not in the correct manner, later everything would fall apart of the man who was made out to be very much a chancer who came from a circus working background.
They squeeze in quite a lot of songs and I thought some would have been done in a different way, but at times they were worked in to fit previous dialogue or moments. Suspicious Minds is the one that I have still been thinking about with its placement of Elvis being trapped at that point.
I enjoyed the film a lot for it being that a film, obviously then wanting to find out what exactly was either true or based on some small truth or even rumour is always something I do after a biopic (I hope I am not alone with that).