Elvis ★★★

Baz Luhrmann sure can direct a music video. The key performances that figure into this biopic are electrifying; they grab hold of you, shake you to attention, and fill you with a deep belief in the power of Elvis. What Luhrmann can’t do nearly so well is direct a movie. All of the “story” that fills in the gaps between the musical numbers are rudimentary to the point of egregiousness. The main culprit isn’t even Tom Hanks’s bewildering portrayal of Col. Tom Parker. Rather it’s Luhrmann’s complete disinterest or utter incompetence in bringing any kind of life to the supporting characters, all of whom are rendered with such threadbare care that the film reads like a satire. (Comparisons with “Walk Hard” are not inappropriate.) Still, Austin Butler, in spite of Luhrmann’s fumbling, is luminous and utterly convincing as the King, which is almost enough to make this 219-minute slog worth it.

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