As I sit down to watch director Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 biopic on the iconic Elvis Presley, titularly called “Elvis,” I can’t help but wonder how Luhrmann is going to pull this off. Luhrmann is tackling arguably the most significant American cultural figure of the 20th Century. However, just minutes into the film, and with the sound of Presley’s iconic “Hound Dog,” it’s clear that Luhrmann has captured Presley perfectly, not just from a visual perspective (thanks, Austin Butler), but from an icon standpoint: he has captured the King of Rock’n’Roll.
Viewers get to see Presley’s life: from his roots in Memphis, Tennessee, to the release of his first single (“Heartbreak Hotel”), to his time serving in the war, and throughout his tumultuous relationship with Priscella Presley. Yet, all throughout the film, Presley is humanized and faces the highs and the lows that are not usually seen in iconic figures. We are able to see the influence of African American culture within Presley’s work (something that, until the Elvis movie, numerous biopics and adaptations of Presley’s work have failed to acknowledge.)
Austin Butler plays Presley himself and nails everything, from the looks to Presley’s iconic voice. Tom Hanks plays the infamous Colonel Tom Parker and supporting roles are played by Dacre Montgomery as Steve Binder, Olivia DeJonge as Priscella Presley and Luke Bracey as Jerry Schilling. Even if you aren’t an Elvis fan, or aren’t even familiar with his work, this movie is definitely something to check out.