Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Presley the performer is riveting. Presley the man is portrayed as a rebel at heart, whose enduring love for black gospel and rhythm and blues echoed and amplified the stirrings of the Civil Rights Movement.

Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge and Austin Butler on the red carpet at Cannes.

Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge and Austin Butler on the red carpet at Cannes.Credit:Joe Maher / Getty Images

Mostly, however, it is about his relationship with Colonel Tom Parker, his manipulative manager, who was shown after his death to have defrauded his client of millions of dollars. Tom Hanks, usually a lovable film presence, plays Parker with reptilian glee.

“As I’ve heard in anecdotes, the colonel was an attractive and wonderful guy who lit up a room,” Hanks said. “He brought joy into everything he did, along with just a little bit of larceny. The amount of ways Colonel Tom Parker cheated people out of nickels and dimes is extraordinary. “

Some of which, he added, he had incorporated into his own life. “You take something from every movie you do!”

Elvis was shot in Queensland with a cast list that could be a roll call of Australian acting talent.

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Olivia DeJonge, who plays Priscilla Presley, was in Cannes along with Luhrmann and his wife, the costume designer Catherine Martin. DeJonge spoke with feeling of her responsibility to playing someone who is not only alive, but still very much involved with the subject.

“There is that energy of feeling that person on your shoulder, constantly watching,” she said, her Australian twang coming as a surprise after seeing her on screen. “I think you’re always going to grapple with whether you’ve illuminated something real and human in them. She’s such a key part of his legacy. The fact that she’s happy and here supporting the film means the world. ”

There was no expense spared on the party that followed the film’s premiere. The collective Cannes memory previously held Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge bash in 2001 to be the best Cannes party ever, but the Elvis launch pushed it to second place. A drone show spelled out Elvis’ name in the sky above the Mediterranean, holding Luhrmann transfixed along with everyone else. Eurovision 2021 winners Maneskin played a set before DJ Diplo roused the dance floor.

It was all film-appropriate, of course: Luhrmann’s films are made to be public events.

“Our film is made for one thing and one thing only, which is to bring audiences into the theater,” he told the press conference. “We meant to make it theatrical.”

Elvis, Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, 1970.

Elvis, Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, 1970.Credit:Frank Carroll / Sygma

As usual, however, that lavish brand of theatricality has divided critics.

Among the British press, The Telegraph described it as “a bright and splashy jukebox epic with an irresistible central performance… the most impeccably styled and blaringly gaudy thing you’ll see all year, and all the better for it.”

The Guardian saw that same gaudiness in a different light as “another pointless explosion of super-spangly sparkles in celluloid form”.

The tragic course of Elvis’ life – his decline into drug addiction and death at 42 – was not examined with any seriousness. “Luhrmann is at all times concerned to rescue Elvis from irony and failure and suffering.”

Among the influential film trade magazines, Indiewire came out against “the 159-minute eyesore” while Variety had a bet each way, describing it on the one hand as “a fizzy, delirious, impishly energized, compulsively watchable two-hour-and-39-minute fever dream” that was also “a strange movie – compelling but not always convincing, at once sweeping and scattershot ”and finally“ woefully imperfect ”.

But that’s all right, my mom. A carnival show, according to the movie’s Colonel Tom Parker, should leave the punters with smiles on their faces. The Elvis experience in Cannes certainly did that.

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