Austin Butler's 'Sexy' 'Elvis' Performance Applauded by Critics Despite Movie Earning Mixed Reviews

Austin Butler plays Elvis Presley in Elvis, in theaters June 24

Critics are weighing in about Elvis.

Directed by Moulin Rouge! filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, the new drama (which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday) about Elvis Presley's rise to stardom features Austin Butler in the title role. Members of Presley's family sang their praises for the film on social media, but film critics are mixed on whether it's a complete success.

"Rather than carving a meaningful path to guide Elvis through history, Luhrmann simply floats him through the years on a raft of nonstop music that bumps into an endless series of biopic clichés at light speed into the next until it finally capsizes a few decades later," wrote IndieWire's David Ehrlich, adding that both Luhrmann and Presley "deserve better."

Variety's Owen Gleiberman, however, called Elvis 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."

Whether or not they liked the movie as a whole, most critics commended Butler, 30, for his performance as the late music icon.

Gareth Cattermole/Getty

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David Rooney wrote for The Hollywood Reporter: "As for the big question of whether Butler could pull off impersonating one of the most indelible icons in American pop-culture history, the answer is an unqualified yes. His stage moves are sexy and hypnotic, his melancholy mama's-boy lost quality is swoon-worthy and he captures the tragic paradox of a phenomenal success story who clings tenaciously to the American Dream even as it keeps crumbling in his hands."

Deadline's Pete Hammond called Butler an "ideal choice" both "visually and vocally." He added, "Butler thrillingly succeeds, especially in the film's first half, with an authentic rhythm that makes us wonder what greater heights Elvis could have climbed had he not succumbed to the dark side of his own fame."

Justin Chang, in a Los Angeles Times review, said Butler is "a decent physical match for Elvis and a better one vocally."

Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS
Warner Bros. Pictures

The singer's ex-wife Priscilla Presley, 76, gave the film her seal of approval in a recent Instagram post, saying her daughter Lisa Marie, 54, is thrilled with the way the drama — which focuses on Elvis and his relationship with his manager Colonel Parker (Tom Hanks) — turned out.

"I've seen Elvis the film, I watched the trailer over a dozen times," Priscilla began the caption of her post, alongside a trailer for the movie. "But the words I heard from my daughter on how much she loved the film and that Riley will love it too when she sees it brought tears."

Noting that she "relived every moment in this film," Priscilla continued, "it took me a few days to overcome the emotions as it did with Lisa."

Elvis is in theaters June 24.

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