Few showmen of our day have given us more of the old razzle-dazzle than Baz Luhrmann
whose movies often appear to have no subject beyond their maker’s dedication to throwing stardust in everyone’s eyes – including his own.
Personally, I yearn to see him tackle an updated version of The Music Man, starring his old pal Hugh Jackman and rescored by Kanye West – but until that day dawns, we can make do with Elvis.
Shot on the Gold Coast and reportedly budgeted at a relatively modest US$85 million ($122 million), this zany biopic has its longueurs and is no more historically reliable than you’d expect.
Still, as an antipodean fever dream it’s significantly more compelling than previous Luhrmann follies like The Great Gatsby or Australia.
Re-mythologising Elvis (played by Austin Butler), the most mythic figure in rock ’n’ roll history, is what you might call Bazness as usual.
The surprise is that Luhrmann’s take on the legend may well be his nearest approach to a heartfelt love story, with apologies to Romeo + Juliet stans.
To be clear, we’re not talking about Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge), who gets one lively scene and then is mostly shown gazing at her man with silent adoration,
until it’s time for her to storm out of Graceland in high ’80s telemovie style (she doesn’t say “You’ve changed, Elvis,” but she might as well have).
No, the thesis of the film is that the central, defining relationship in the King’s life was his co-dependent bond with his manager Colonel Tom Parker