Review Round Up: Elvis

Baz Luhrmann’s awaited biographical film has made its debut at this year’s Cannes Festival – but what have critics had to say about it?

The Guardian: ** “It’s not a movie so much as 159-minute trailer for a film called Elvis – a relentless, frantically flashy montage, epic and yet negligible at the same time, with no variation of pace. At the end of it all, you might find yourself pondering the eternal questions: what does Luhrmann think of Elvis’s music? Does he, for example, prefer some Elvis songs to others? Has he listened to any of Elvis’s songs all the way through? Or does he shut down Spotify after 20 seconds once he reckons he’s got the gist?”

The Independent: **** “By framing Elvis’s story through Parker’s, Luhrmann’s film is cannily able to take a step back from the intimate details of the musician’s life. Instead it views him as a nuclear warhead of sensuality and cool, someone stood at the very crossroads of a fierce culture war.”

Indie Wire: “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.”

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. Luhrmann’s taste for poperatic spectacle is evident all the way, resulting in a movie that exults in moments of high melodrama as much as in theatrical artifice and vigorously entertaining performance.”

Variety: “Luhrmann has made a woefully imperfect but at times arresting drama that builds to something moving and true. By the end, the film’s melody has been unchained.”

The Wrap: “You get the feeling that Luhrmann might have liked to go further in the fantasia direction, but maybe Elvis was too big, too familiar and too sacred for him to go whole hog – so instead he settles for big, charged musical sequences and a host of lies of varying sizes.”

The Times: **** “It’s the morphine, silly. It’s all about the morphine. This new pop biopic from the director Baz Luhrmann plunges, early on, into a morphine dripper and does not ever, realistically, tonally, return. The opioid is pulsing into the arm of the legendary music manager Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks under gallons of latex as a cross between Rumpelstiltskin and Fat Bastard from Austin Powers.”

Evening Standard: **** “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.”

The Telegraph: **** “Austin Butler makes a seductive Elvis in this Cannes premiere, while Tom Hanks is hugely entertaining as his questionable manager.”

The Sun: **** “A lot of this due to an extraordinary performance from Austin Butler, who should be crowned the King of Elvis impersonators.”

Elvis is in cinemas from the 24th June.

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