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“Elvis”: splendor and misery of the King in a formidable biopic by Baz Luhrmann

Generous director in his disproportionate productions, the Australian Baz Luhrmann (Red Mill, Romeo + Juliet) offers himself a piece of choice by realizing Elvispresented out of competition at Cannes and on screens on Wednesday June 22. It chronicles the rise and fall of Elvis Presley through the eyes of his controversial manager, Colonel Parker. An original angle as the King devoted a love-hate to his impresario, alternately angel and demon, who propelled him to the top of the bill and then cut off his wings.

On the threshold of the 1950s, the young Elvis Presley recorded his first success in which he mixed country music and rhythm and blues, white music and black music: the first scandal. At the top of the charts, he fell under the thumb of a crafty impresario nicknamed Colonel Parker. The King is born: on stage, the swaying of the rising star provokes the enthusiasm of the spectators and the hatred of the leagues of virtue. To calm things down, Elvis is sent to Germany for two years to do his military service. On his return, Parker exerts an increasingly strong hold on the rocker by granting himself half of his earnings and preventing him from making a world tour.

The Elvis Presley subject is godsend for Baz Luhrmann. The two artists find themselves in their same excessiveness. The first in that of the character and the extravagance of his panoply, the second in spectacular and baroque stagings, where the music is central. The director softens his clipped style, past the first part, and signs at the same time his best film.

The first steps of Elvis are treated at a frantic pace with a cutter editing, customary for the filmmaker. The succession of heterogeneous and fleeting images evokes a scrapbook, where iconic images of America from the 1950s parade. Then the story becomes slower, more fluid, deeper. A real dramaturgy sets in and with it, the drama into which the King will sink. The idea of ​​telling the story of Elvis by Colonel Parker provokes support. The interpretation of Tom Hanks in this negative role is breathtaking, just like that of Austin Butler who plays Elvis, very physical and sensitive.

Like his flamboyant and pathetic hero, Baz Luhrmann constructs a staging that reflects the dimensions of the emblematic character of an uninhibited America. It does not tell the story of Elvis but that of a manipulated man, prevented from living his music as he intended. The reason: a money-hungry exploiter to whom Elvis owes a lot, but in contact with whom he will leave feathers. The King does not lose his superbness in a nostalgic, bitter and lively film.

The poster of"Elvis" by Baz Luhrmann (2022).  (WARNER BROS; FRANCE)

Gender : biopic
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Actors: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Luke Bracey
Duration : 2h39
Exit : June 22, 2022
Distributer : Warner Bros. France

Summary: Lhe life and musical work of Elvis Presley through the prism of his complex relationship with his mysterious manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The film explores their relationship over two decades, from the singer’s rise to unparalleled stardom, against a backdrop of cultural upheaval and America’s discovery of the end of innocence.

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