Elvis, the biographical feature film, tells a well-rounded story about the iconic Rock ‘n’ Roll star Elvis Presley, starring Austin Butler. Beginning with his childhood, the film unfolds with his rise to superstardom, while at the same time giving viewers an insight into the events that took place between him and his manipulative manager.

The epic musical drama also stars Chaydon Jay as young Elvis Presley, Tom Hanks as his manager – Colonel Tom Parker, Olivia DeJonge as his wife, Priscilla Presley, Helen Thomson as his mother, Gladys Presley, and Richard Roxburgh as his father, Vernon Presley, each a close and important part of his life and journey. The film also features David Wenham as Hank Snow, Luke Bracey as Jerry Schilling, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jimmie Rodgers Snow, and Dacre Montgomery as Steve Binder, alongside a cast of equally skilled actors.

Filmed in the United States and Australia, the title character’s story starts with him as a child in Tupelo, Mississippi, and then growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, as he discovers his love for music and faith. The film initially feels fast paced, as it unfolds highlighting his motivation to be a star and support his family above all else. This is shown with flash backs, and screen transitions which seems to work well in casting a spotlight on the musical influence he had around him.

The biopic calmly walks its audience through Elvis’ rise to stardom, while also showing viewers the challenges he faced, in a time when the cultural landscape was still evolving, when he was set to entertain his fans with his own style of African American music, delivered with his energetic flare for creative movement.

Set over a period of around 20 years, his journey unfolds with events that resulted in him spending several years in Las Vegas, Nevada, while also highlighting how he had pushed himself, with his eventual addiction to prescription drugs, and covers how he was exploited and controlled, until his tragic death in 1977, at the age of 42.

The engaging film about the successful solo recording artist and actor, shines a spotlight on his distinctive style and multi-faceted talent. Portrayed by Austin Butler, who proved himself to be a better fit for the role among other stars, clearly managed to deliver an incredible performance, with charisma, exhibiting what is being described as exceptional stage presence, making a clear effort to naturally capture Elvis’ mannerisms, style, behaviour, and speech. Tom Hanks’ character as Parker, is being described by many as a bit over-the-top but his performance portrays the importance Elvis placed in his manager and how Parker used that to his advantage, to influence Elvis to follow his direction every step of the way.

The 159-minute film by director Baz Luhrmann, was made together with producers Catherine Martin, Schuyler Weiss, Gail Berman, and Patrick McCormick, working in collaboration with production companies Bazmark Films and The Jackal Group. Made with a budget of US$85 million, Elvis received mixed to positive critic from fans, backed by ratings of 79 per cent featured on Rotten Tomatoes, 63 per cent on Metacritic and 7.9/10 on IMDb.

Those who followed the star’s career through his many stages, would have noticed the strain in his performance, given his creative disagreements and dissatisfaction, he had with his manager, late in his career. The real footage that is used, shows how unhealthy he had become during the hardest times in his life, when he was unhappy. Luhrmann’s style of direction shows viewers the raw emotion on-screen.

The film about the ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ with music by Elliott Wheeler, is lengthy, but the way it captures the key moments and fits his life’s story in a well-documented format, justifies its runtime. Elvis delivers an immersive biographical experience, which is sure to leave fans wanting to hear more of the King’s iconic music.

By Nirupa Mohan Dore