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Friday Film Review--"Elvis"

Warner Brothers

Relative newcomer, Austin Butler, beat out other well-known actors such as Harry Styles, Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort for the coveted role of Elvis. Butler appeared on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon programs, later in teen dramas and in 2018 made his Broadway debut in the revival of The Iceman Cometh. He is a beautiful young man, much like Elvis and at times, the similarity is haunting.

Following the premiere, Priscilla Presley, Elvis’s ex-wife, tweeted that Butler’s performance was mesmerizing. She also said, “it is a true story told brilliantly and creatively that only Baz, in his unique artistic way, could have delivered.”

Once cast, Butler focused on developing the persona for a year and a half before filming began. He had endless hours of film and video to study. He had a karate instructor, coaches for movement, singing and dialect. Without a doubt, the speech patterns, voice tone and rhythm he developed is with him still. Butler did all his own singing and did it well.

The story is told through the eyes of Col. Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks, who managed, or as we know now, mismanaged, Elvis’s career for over 20 years.

The film takes us from the boyhood years of Elvis living in and being influenced by the black culture in his Tupelo community. In fact, racism is at the core of the story as a sign of the times. Various national newsworthy events were creatively worked into the story.

I’ve been to Graceland, and assumed they shot some of the scenes on the actual property, but I was wrong. The film was completely shot in Queensland, Australia but they did a meticulous recreation of Elvis’s Memphis home. Costumes and sets were outstanding.

We see Elvis perform and transform over several decades. We learn a little more about the elements of his life that shaped him, what sustained him, and in the end, what took him away from us too soon.

Many details of his life and relationships are pared away giving us an oversimplified yet still interesting glimpse into the life of The King.

Elvis is rated PG-13 and runs 2 hours and 39 rockin’ minutes.

Friday Film Reviewer & Monthly Book Reviewer