Elvis (2022)
159 min|Biography, Drama, Music|24 Jun 2022
7.3Rating: 7.3 / 10 from 232,685 usersMetascore: 64
The life of American music icon Elvis Presley, from his childhood to becoming a rock and movie star in the 1950s while maintaining a complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

Not many good biopics of legendary musicians, such as Straight Outta Compton, Walk the Line, Rocketman to Bohemian Rhapsody. Legendary superstar Elvis Presley finally got his movie after being briefly mentioned in several other films, including Walk the Line. One thing that is interesting here is the filmmaker from Australia, Baz Lurhmann. A film about music is not new to Lurhmann, like Moulin Rogue!. Who would have thought this film was more than two decades old. As we all know, Lurhmann has a unique aesthetic approach, a combination of musical elements, dynamic cinematography, and a fast editing style.

Playing in the film with a budget of USD 85 million is a senior star Tom Hanks and young actor Austin Butler as Elvis. Most other stars are Australian actors, including Olivia DeJonge, Richard Roxburgh, Luke Bracey, and David Wenham. The film was initially produced in Australia with the onset of the January 2020 pandemic, which is said to have been completed a year later. So, has time been able to make this film at the level of the biopic films of music legends above?

Like most biopics, this 159-minute film takes place from when Elvis was a child until his death at 42. Uniquely, this film is told from the point of view of the manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Hanks), who is also the narrator. The figure of the manager is described as an antagonist rather than a protagonist. Through the colonel, the story is told dynamically and quickly using the dominant montage technique and, of course, the aesthetic style of the filmmaker. For me, the filmmaker is the biggest problem of the film.

Once I found out that Lurhmann was working on this film, one thing I was afraid of happened. For those familiar with the filmmaker, his aesthetic narrative style is far more prominent than his narrative. Elvis is not a typical biopic like Walk the Line and Bohemian Rhapsody, which puts a lot of emphasis on drama and emotion. With such an attractive packaging, I lost so much emotional connection that we couldn’t feel close to the characters. Problem after problem goes so fast that we can’t fully digest it. As if this film was made for people who already know and have read Elvis’ biography. Many things are missed because there are no dramatic moments there. Even music, the theme and concept of this film, we can rarely fully enjoy because there is always a pause in dialogue or the narrator’s voice. For me, this is very, very disturbing.

Baca Juga  It Chapter Two

However, since Elvis’ debut segment, he performed in Texas (about 90 minutes long). Gradually this film begins to take shape and starts to get emotional. The concert segment was stretched for a long time, and we could enjoy some of the legend’s iconic numbers. Emotions are getting more and more in as the tragic life of Elvis is trapped in a money-making machine for the colonel. Until the emotional climax, he presented a snippet of the original footage, where he sang the song for the last time (on stage) before his death. Is the second half of the film able to lift the movie? Yes, it’s just that this film cannot fully describe who Elvis is, either because of the script, the directing style, or a combination of the two. Who “killed” Elvis? I did not get a satisfactory answer. Elvis needs a typical biopic.

With his distinctive aesthetic approach, Elvis belongs to Lurhman, not Elvis. Anyone agrees that Lurhmann is a great filmmaker; however, is he the right person to direct this film? Moulin Rouge is an extraordinary musical film because the story is a fictional story supported by the right cinematic approach. Lurhmann’s method works perfectly here. For me, in the context of rock biopics, Walk the Line, and Bohemian Rhapsody are still far superior.

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His hobby has been watching films since childhood, and he studied film theory and history autodidactically after graduating from architectural studies. He started writing articles and reviewing films in 2006. Due to his experience, the author was drawn to become a teaching staff at the private Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta, where he taught Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory from 2003 to 2019. His debut film book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2008, which divides film art into narrative and cinematic elements. The second edition of the book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2018. This book has become a favorite reference for film and communication academics throughout Indonesia. He was also involved in writing the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Vol. 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Additionally, he authored the "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). Until now, he continues to write reviews of the latest films at montasefilm.com and is actively involved in all film productions at the Montase Film Community. His short films have received high appreciation at many festivals, both local and international. Recently, his writing was included in the shortlist (top 15) of Best Film Criticism at the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival. From 2022 until now, he has also been a practitioner-lecturer for the Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts in the Independent Practitioner Program.


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