By: Gia Lukaitis
Two hours and thirty-nine minutes are all it took for the country to be swept away with Austin Butler’s outstanding performance in the 2022 movie Elvis. From Elvis Presley’s early days in Memphis to his last days in Las Vegas, Butler perfected the role and became a true embodiment of the nation’s beloved “King of Rock.” The biopic directed by Baz Luhrman captures not only Presley’s rise to fame but the darker sides of his career caused by a manipulative relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Elvis received a twelve-minute long standing ovation at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival which placed the movie as recognized amongst the longest in history.
Elvis Presley was a rock icon who was known for breaking the rules of what society deemed acceptable and his fame is one that will hold a legacy forever. In the movie, Austin Butler perfects the role down to the minor changes in his voice through time. He models everything from Elvis’ erratic dance movements, his dreamy personality, and his undeniable ambition to be the best artist of his time.
Austin Butler, who spent three years studying Elvis Presley, nailed his performances when recreating Elvis’ unique dance movements and sound. Butler can be heard singing with his own voice for Elvis’ younger performances and blended with the original versions for his older performances. The movie encapsulates Elvis’ sweeping of the nation with the early performance of the song, “That’s All Right.” And Butler, who is in a pink tux with a black lace shirt and eye makeup, sweeps the audience exactly the same.
The movie exemplifies the passion that Elvis put into his personal relationships and career. But, as Elvis’ world falls apart at the hands of his manager’s abuse, Butler recreates multiple heartbreaking scenes that depict drug use, relationship troubles, and a decline in mental health.
Elvis’ passion is shown by Butler during his televised performance of the song “If I Can Dream.” Following the death of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the movie describes this performance as a “protest” song, longing for the country to come together in peace. Austin Butler’s movements are nearly identical to Elvis’ performance only further proving his well-earned praise for the role.
Austin Butler shines in his execution of the song “Suspicious Minds” in which he exhibits the true rock icon that Elvis Presley was and continues to be. The performance is placed in the movie in Elvis’ later days in Las Vegas, dressed in all white with his famous cape. The performance ties the movie together and will leave anyone watching it in awe. Not only does Butler prove his own dedication to the role, but he carries out the love that Elvis Presley had for music and his own dedication to his career.