The Last Elvis (El Último Elvis)
This year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, and the enduring obsession he holds over one of his fans is the subject of Armando Bo’s impressive directorial debut, THE LAST ELVIS.
Carlos Gutierrez (John McInerny), a part-time Elvis impersonator, has ambition beyond his dead-end job in a factory, but it doesn’t involve becoming a better father to his daughter, Lisa-Marie (Margarita Lopez). Tired of his selfish ways, his estranged wife Alejandra (Griselda Siciliani) seeks sole custody of their child, but when she is hospitalised after a serious car accident, Carlos is offered an opportunity to forge a bond with his daughter. Carlos is soon forced to realise that accepting parental responsibility may mean the end of pursuing his own dreams.
… a tale that is far from being a mere curio for Presley aficionados.
For those with an aversion to The King and peanut butter sandwiches then THE LAST ELVIS may be an unpalatable prospect, but this would be to ignore a tale that is far from being a mere curio for Presley aficionados. Director Armando Bo, who co-wrote the screenplay of BIUTIFUL with director Alejandro González Iñárritu, explores how fantasy can offer a dangerously enticing escape from the drudgery of everyday reality. Though the protagonist may clearly be delusional – he insists on others addressing him as “Elvis” and calls his estranged wife “Priscilla” – he represents something of the contradictions inherent in us all, of the untruths that people tell to each other and to themselves.
McInerny is a man possessed during the musical sequences…
Originally hired as a voice coach before replacing the original Argentinian lead actor, John McInerny is a revelation: all the more so, given this is his film debut. A part-time Elvis impersonator in real life, McInerny is a man possessed during the musical sequences, his swagger at odds with his hunched body language off stage. He wonderfully conveys an all too human figure who elicits sympathy and frustration in equal measure, with the film suggesting that a disappointing adolescence may hold the key to his behaviour. When Carlos visits his uncommunicative mother, who resides in a care home, he assures her that he will soon make her proud. His grand plans to go on tour mean further frustration for his wife and child, but as Carlos tells his daughter, “When you believe in something you have to pursue it till the end”.
Following an on-stage meltdown witnessed by his daughter, the film threatens to take a turn for the sinister, but instead leads towards a conclusion that while initially surprising is entirely plausible, underlining the excellent script from Bo and co-writer Nicolás Giacobone. Bolstered by a stellar, centre stage performance by McInerny, THE LAST ELVIS is a tale that finds dignity and humanity in the most unlikely of places.
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