Jack Bottomley, Media Correspondent

Films: Elvis

Director Baz Luhrmann is a director of a certain flair, so seeing that grand and exuberant style stung with “The King’s” showmanship was always going to be a cinema event worth purchasing a ticket for. But how well would Baz capture the much larger story behind the on-stage spectacle? Well, as it happens, brilliantly. No wonder audiences can’t help falling in love with this one…which has now become the second highest grossing music biopic behind Bohemian Rhapsody.

Charting (so to speak) the origins of Elvis Presley, from a young hound dog to the world’s best selling artist, this tale captures the extent of the man’s popularity, but also his cultural impact, his often unsung inspirations and how his shadowy manager Col. Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) played a major - and sad - part in this rather tragic story of super stardom.

As someone who likes some of the music but is in no way an ardent fan, this was such a night of entertainment. An undeniable dazzling triumph of a motion picture that you won’t want to return to sender, and arguably Baz Luhrmann’s best film yet. Opening with a narration-framed plot device from the skewed perspective of Hanks’ greedy Parker, Baz infuses the entire show with heart, auteur-driven thrill and some commendable level of facts and accuracy within.

The editing by Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond truly befits the rock and roll legend, while the stylish, playful and original scene-to-scene transitions are splendid to behold and relish on the big screen, just like the marvellous cinematography by Mandy Walker and select music by Elliott Wheeler (though largely the soundtrack is of course comprised of artists inspired by Elvis’ music and his music itself). Aesthetically immaculate, inventive and interesting, Elvis is clearly the product of a cinematic author, whose particular style has never been better suited to a subject. You really will get all shook up!

Yet, behind the inevitable spectacle, as Luhrmann tackles the legend of a music/film/pop culture icon, there is a layered film about the complexities of the man, the heartbreak hotel (literally) that is his year’s of manipulation by Parker and indeed the very basis of his worldwide appeal. Alongside a welcome embrace of how black artists were integral to the formation of the man, in a segregated America - and world - the branches of which still persist to this day. It is a generous, effective story and one that is very well relayed for fans and non-fans alike.

The heavily make-up transformed Hanks plays a theatrical machiavellian part - almost Emperor Palpatine like - as Colonel Tom Parker, which is probably why it has been a divisive performance, but I felt it worked superbly within this film. There are also some darn good supporting performances by Olivia DeJonge Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh and Kelvin Harrison Jr.

That said, this is Austin Butler’s show. He is simply incredible as Elvis, tapping those blue suede shoes and handling the sparkling showbiz panache, alongside the emotional beats equally brilliantly, in what has to be a breakout and an awards inviting performance. His excellence is confirmed by (but not limited to) the poignant closing moments, which integrate real footage of Elvis in so seamlessly, you lose track of where the acting ends and the archival footage begins. A true testament of a performance.

Elvis addressed far more than I expected about the man, while celebrating the legend, and did so in a showcase of directorial distinctiveness. I loved it, the success is deserved and it might just raise a little more conversation about Elvis’s life and career, as well as a renewed action in the music and movies, and cement his importance on a whole era of American history/culture…and ever since.

So if you're lonesome tonight, head on down to the cinema and catch Elvis while it’s still on screens. It’s Now Or Never….

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks,
Release Date: Out Now (Cinemas)