“What are they hollering at?” asks Austin Butler’s young Elvis Presley huddling up with his fellow musicians mid-performance of “Baby Let’s Play House” as women of all ages in the audience at the Louisiana Hayride begin to shriek and scream uncontrollably.

“The wiggle!” a bandmate exclaimed. 

Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

The move that would eventually capture the attention of audiences across America through their televisions had one individual, Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks, Cast Away), seeing nothing but dollar signs.

In Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS, the writer, director, and producer provides the audience a front-row seat to the story of one of the best-selling artists of all time as told through the eyes of the Colonel, a longtime carny, who considered the late American icon to be his greatest act. Although the manner in which he conducted his business was unsavory, the grifting Colonel played a huge role in elevating Presley from a household name nationwide to one of the biggest entertainers in the world. 

Frenetically paced, the nearly three-hour film covers over 20 years of Presley’s life—from his rise to stardom to his premature death at the age of 42. Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) draws the audience in with Presley as most vividly remember him: the rollicking, hip-shaking showman that had his fans “all shook up” through a feast of stunning visuals, courtesy of Director of Photography Mandy Walker (Mulan [2020]), and an undeniable star-making turn from Butler.

Read the full review on ArtUNews.com.

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