Despite the best efforts of the team behind Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the musical-genius biopic remains alive and well and wrapped in crowd-pleasing narrative clichés. Every new entry to the genre must prove its worth independent of the oft-parodied building blocks common to all rock luminaries, a challenge now undertaken by the long-dormant Baz Luhrmann with his new film Elvis.
The first trailer for the upcoming musical-drama appeared online just this morning, and teased a more exuberant take on the familiar star’s-rise arc seen not so long ago in the Elton John picture Rocketman. But this one has a secret weapon, in the form of Tom Hanks doing what is without a doubt the single goofiest voice of his long and storied career.
Austin Butler (who you may recall getting the business end of a dog’s jaws as Manson Family member Tex Watson in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) takes the lead as Elvis Aaron Presley, the hip-swiveling guitarist that set teenage-girl loins aflame through the ’50s and ’60s. Hanks backs him up as Colonel Tom Parker, his manager for more than two decades, a wily Dutchman whose business acumen was in no small part responsible for Presley’s towering success.
But the most surprising name of the project is that of director Baz Luhrmann, who hasn’t completed a feature film since his maximalist take on The Great Gatsby nine years ago. His take on the usual music-biopic template is guaranteed to be different by simple virtue of being his, evident in the careening cameras and extravagant production design teased in the clip below.
Coverage for the film will undoubtedly be focused on the transformative physicality of Butler’s performance, his shucks-miss voice and waggling legs clearly worked on for many, many hours to be rehashed in coming interviews. People prone to saying things like “the Oscar race begins here” will most likely announce that the Oscar race has begun there. The seasons, they go round and round.
Elvis comes to cinemas in the UK and US on 24 June.
Published 17 Feb 2022