Elvis Movie Review
Tom Hanks gives one of his weirdest performances to date and Austin Butler does a solid Elvis impersonation in Elvis, an entertaining if empty biopic by Baz Luhrmann.
Much has been said about Hanks here–is this one of his worst performances or one of his best?–though the answer isn’t nearly so simple; Hanks gives the perfect performance for what was demanded of him. Elvis is no standard biopic; told moreso from the perspective of sleazy promoter Colonel Tom Parker, Hanks operates more like an unreliable narrator, the story (and his performance) skewed toward showmanship.
But Hanks is limited the same way Butler is; Luhrmann is so obsessed with the theatrics that he forgets about his characters, most notably the famous singer at the heart of the story. Butler may give it his all, but when the closing credits commence, do we really know what made Elvis tick? What his personality was like? What his life was like?
Maybe it doesn’t matter. As is, Elvis is arguably a better biopic than most if only because it doesn’t aim to be your standard biopic. In someone else’s hands, Elvis would have followed the typical rise-and-fall format we’ve seen countless times before, the film’s final act devoted to Butler in a fat suit sweating out his last vestiges of life. But what’s the fun in that?
Luhrmann’s Elvis isn’t a great movie, but it at least has more life than most biopics. What it lacks, however, is heart and soul.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.