Director Baz Luhrmann had made the three generations of Presley women cry.
Elvis Presley’s grandchild, Riley Keough, revealed that the film about her grandfather made her emotional. She wept alongside her mother, Lisa Marie and grandmother Priscilla.
The three women wept as they watched the movie together, said Keough at Variety’s Women in Motion panel at the Cannes Film Festival.
“It was a very emotional experience. It’s very intense to watch when it’s your family,” said Keough, a first-time filmmaker whose debut movie, War Pony, launched at Cannes. “It wasn’t like I distrusted Baz in any way, but you’re protective over your family.”
Elvis, featuring Austin Butler as the iconic singer, follows Presley’s early life in Tennessee, his ties with Colonel Parker (Tom Hanks), and his unforgettable journey to fame.
Presley’s ex-wife, Priscilla, posted on Instagram to compliment the movie earlier this month.
“I’ve seen Elvis the film. I watched the trailer over a dozen times,” she said. “I relived every moment in this film. It took me a few days to overcome the emotions, as it did with Lisa.”
Lisa Marie Presley described the movie as “absolutely exquisite” and projected that it would snatch an Oscar.
Keough, at the Cannes, told the audience that she had been a fan of Luhrmann for a long time.
“The first movie I ever watched in the theater and said I wanted to make movies was Moulin Rogue. I was 12,” she revealed. “It was a real horror to know Baz was doing this movie. Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rogue, for the age I was at the time, were really powerful.”
She further said that the effort Luhrmann and Butler dedicated to getting the details accurate was visible from the first scenes of the film.
“That made me emotional immediately,” Keough stated. “I started crying five minutes in and didn’t stop. There’s a lot of family trauma and generational trauma that started around then for our family. I felt honored they worked so hard to really get his essence. Austin captured that beautifully.”
Earlier this month, in an interview with EW, Luhrmann said that he wanted to utilize Elvis to spend time with the man instead of the titular singer, navigating race relations and the ever-changing sands of celebrity culture along the way.
“This was about exploring America in the ’50 and the ’60s and the ’70s, and Elvis was at the center of the culture for the good, the bad, and the ugly in various ways,” the filmmaker said. “It’s a bit like [how] Shakespeare takes a historical figure and uses it to look at the bigger picture.”
Luhrmann sees his movie as less of a biopic or a musical and more of an impressionist tapestry in his own style.
“It’s a drama. But music in this film is as important as words,” he said. “Because Elvis was a man of few words. When he spoke, he spoke with such intent and meaning, but where he really communicated himself was through song.”Elvis comes to theaters on June 24.
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