‘s “Elvis” isn’t your typical musical docu-drama.  Like Baz’s previous films, this one is packed to the rim with kinetic energy, feet-tapping tunes, and a questionable grip on reality.  In a particularly brilliant choice, the story is told in flashbacks from the perspective of the villain, Elvis’ shady manager Colonel Tom Parker. (Tom Hanks)  This transforms a rather tired tale into a tragic Faustian fable, where maybe all the events aren’t exactly the way they happened.

We join the story in 1955 when the Colonel was still traveling with a circus and managing country crooner Hank Snow. (David Wenham)  The Colonel stumbles across Elvis (Austin Butler) in Memphis, and within a year has secured a recording contract with RCA.  At first, it may seem the Colonel is a beneficial force in Elvis’ life, but it soon becomes clear that the only thing he cares about is money.  As the years tick by, the film highlights the amount of influence the Colonel had over Elvis and his family.  While our devious narrator tries to justify all the manipulation he employed, we see the pain and destruction his insatiable greed caused.

Bolstering the already incredible soundtrack and luscious visuals are amazing character performances.  Tom Hanks leans into his villain role to an almost melodramatic level, gnashing his teeth as he chews the scenery.  It’s a little over the top, but an absolute delight to watch.  Austin Butler is sure to gain multiple nominations for his take on Elvis.  He’s not doing an impression, and it doesn’t seem like he’s “acting” either.  It’s more akin to channeling the soul of the King.  Austin Butler IS Elvis in this movie.  When they showed actual footage of Elvis over the end credits, I recoiled a bit.  I had become so accustomed to Butler’s visage during the previous couple of hours, that the real footage is what seemed fake for a moment.

Many people are already familiar with the rise and fall of Elvis’ career, but I suspect not as many know the story of his manager, and just how bad things were in that business relationship.  While some of the facts are smudged in the movie, there are a handful of true items regarding the Colonel that do fall into the “truth is stranger than fiction” category.   Despite the tragic nature of the story, “Elvis” is a highly entertaining, generally fun movie that is told in a manner we don’t see very often.

Elvis
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