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Culture > Entertainment

A Review of the 2022 Elvis Movie 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

About a month ago, I watched the movie Elvis for the first time. It was a movie I’ve been meaning to watch, and since I was recovering from my wisdom teeth surgery, I finally had the time to watch it. Laying down in my bed at home with my family, ice packs resting on both sides of my mouth, the movie became a third ice pack for me. My pain subsided as I watched because it grabbed my attention and helped me stop thinking about the pain. It was one of those movies I didn’t expect to be as good as it was. 

Personally, I’m usually not big into musicals, but this movie in particular swayed me. It was like I was eight years old all over again watching High School Musical, yet it was nothing like that at the same time. The content and tone of the movies are nothing alike. What makes me compare the two is simply the mood of the films and the similar reactions I had as the viewer. 8-year-old me had different interests than 21-year-old me now. I’ve seen many musicals, most of which I couldn’t get into, but I watch the ones I do like on repeat.

I’m not going to lie, it’s not the songs in musicals that do it for me; it’s the narrative and the songs. Musicals that have strong music without a compelling storyline are the ones that fall flat to me. I’m a novelist; I love stories and I love plot, and even more than those two things combined, I love emotion.

Elvis made me feel so many feelings. Before, Elvis was just a figure I learned about in history classes and pop culture. All I knew was he was the King of Rock and Roll and he had some songs on Just Dance. I had no idea he struggled so much with fame, addiction, and debt. I think the reason the movie did well was because people could connect to him. We are often socialized to idolize celebrities like they are perfect. But when we see that someone like Elvis wasn’t perfect, it allows us to realize we don’t have to be perfect either. It’s the parts of Elvis that he struggled with and fought to overcome that inevitably helped him succeed. I love that it shows strength and failure facing a stalemate. Yes, a lot of the film was sad, but it also brought awareness to isolation and addiction and it helped reduce the stigma for a lot of things that people don’t openly talk about anymore. 

I thought it was genius that the narration was done by Colonel Tom Parker. The antagonist of the film giving his perspective was so well done because it’s structured so differently from the typical type of story. We usually hear the protagonist’s point of view, but here, we hear the villain explaining why he isn’t a villain. It’s almost like he’s trying to make himself the protagonist. In my opinion, I saw him as an unreliable narrator, and that’s what kept me watching. I wanted to know his motivations for why he did what he did. Hearing his perspective only made me empathize with Elvis more, which I think shows how amazing the movie was. Usually, you need someone’s point of view to really know how they feel, but seeing the Colonel pressuring Elvis to do things he didn’t want to do and seeing the root of the evil created even more empathy for the other side I think. 

I thought Austin Butler did a great acting job. It’s easy to look at him in the film and assume he’s Elvis. He brought him to life so well. I loved the history that was included in the film, too, as I didn’t know Elvis’s views on certain things. 

Along with that, I love the depiction of his relationship with his wife, Priscilla, and how it came tumbling down near the end. I liked it because it was honest in that they didn’t end up together due to his issues with drinking and his infidelity. Despite how sad it is, I like that it’s truthful and that Priscilla and Elvis, despite how it went down, still truly loved each other. For me, when I see cheating so rampant, it sometimes makes me feel less confident I’ll be able to find something loyal in the future. But this movie didn’t make me feel that way. It made me feel hopeful I can find someone as long as we maintain a healthy relationship.

I’m not sure how much of the film is true or not, but I really liked how the movie turned out. Maybe I don’t know Elvis perfectly well, but I feel like I know him better than I did before I watched the movie. 

Sydney Savage is a graduate of Michigan State University with a BA in psychology and a BA English (with a creative writing concentration). Part of her novel called "I Love You More Than Me" is published at Red Cedar Review, and an excerpt of her other novel, “Just Let Me Go” is published at Outrageous Fortune magazine. She will be getting her Masters in Social Work at the University of Michigan and volunteering for CAPS. She plans to work with adolescents and eating disorder populations. Along with this, she'll be continuing her passion for novel writing and pursuing her dream of publication. She hopes to bring more mental health and body image themes into the book publishing market. She is a current member of Michigan Romance Writers. You can read some of her works on her personal blog and website: https://sydsavage13.wixsite.com/sydwriter13 Her twitter is @realsydsavage13 and her writing insta is @sydwriter13