As you probably know, Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” starring Tom Hanks and Austin Butler opened at Cannes yesterday.
There was a 10 minute ovation, noted. But Cannes is famous for thunderous standing ovations unless a movie is a total stinker. So this expression of delight is not a surprise. (Also, the movie is 2 hours 39 minutes. Some people may have just wanted to see if their blood was still flowing.)
Critics, however, have given the much anticipated film muted praise so far. “Elvis” has an 82 on Rotten Tomatoes with just 17 reviews filed so far. The film will get a real Elvis press junket at Graceland on June 11th.
The reviews are what I would call a “B” so far. Most of the critics who’ve filed liked it, with reservations. Some really didn’t care for it. Those would include Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair and David Ehrlich of Indie Wire. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian in London had little use for it too.
But Justin Chang writes for the LA Times: “To complain that “Elvis” is basically a compilation of musical-biopic conventions is a bit like complaining about a greatest-hits album; it also misses… [Luhrmann’s] ability to suffuse clichés with sincerity, energy and feeling.”
Owen Gleiberman of Variety really liked it: “A fizzy, delirious, impishly energized, compulsively watchable 2-hour-and-39-minute fever dream — a spangly pinwheel of a movie that converts the Elvis saga we all carry around in our heads into a lavishly staged biopic-as-pop-opera.”
So, stay tuned. I had heard from early screenings that “Elvis” was very stylish but didn’t penetrate the myth of Presley beyond what we already know– and that if you don’t know much about the subject there’s not a lot to learn here. Personally, I’m fascinated and can’t wait to see it.