Austin Butler channels Elvis Presley's raw, revolutionary talent in Baz Luhrmann's fanciful film "Elvis."
Performing Elvis's songs and conjuring his sexually explosive gyrations, Butler eerily matches the real Elvis. He brings out Elvis' sexual ambiguity, the boyish effeminacy and masculine grace that rocketed young girls' libidos.
Luhrmann examines black musicians' influence on Elvis, and how his loosening of female sexuality was seen as subversive by white supremacist politicians like Mississippi Sen. James Eastland. He even imagines a friendship in Memphis between Elvis and B.B. King, and exaggerates Elvis' threat to the white power structure, dubiously claiming that Elvis was threatened with arrest before joining the Army.
Tom Hanks gives a leering, overly broad performance as Elvis' fraudulent and controlling manager Col. Tom Parker. Olivia DeJonge delivers a restrained portrayal of Priscilla Presley, whom Elvis met in Germany during his Army service.
With dynamic musical performances, from the Louisiana Hayride to Elvis' sad last Vegas years, the film presents Elvis as a major musical innovator shackled by Parker's manipulations.
Butler captures Elvis' primal, culture-changing talent, ahead of its time and yet defining his age.