Baz Luhrmann Needs to Be Stopped

He's the M. Night Shyamalan of romantic epics. We don't need his Elvis biopic.

by River Donaghey
Jul 2 2019, 5:06pm

screenshot via trailer

Baz Luhrmann is on the hunt for a star in his upcoming Elvis biopic. While the guy was supposedly "casting a wide net" to find the right actor for the role, his current short list seems exceedingly bland and obvious. Luhrmann is reportedly eyeing Ansel Elgort, Harry Styles, and Miles Teller for the role, along with Austin Butler and the guy from Kick-Ass. The casting options are such a grab bag of Young Cheekbones of Hollywood that it's a surprise Timothée Chalamet didn't even at least land an audition, but regardless of who Luhrmann eventually finds to play the King, one thing is abundantly clear: This movie will be godawful.

That won't be the fault of the casting or the endless Walk Hard clichés that plague every biopic, though. Baz Luhrmann's Elvis movie will be bad because Baz Luhrmann is bad.

Luhrmann's 3-D Great Gatsby adaptation was a gratuitous, painful mess that made the 1970s failure of an adaptation seem genius by comparison, but it's also a perfect example of Luhrmann's directing style: Gratuitous, self-consciously stylized, and somehow so loud and in-your-face that it winds up being boring.

Just look at how Luhrmann tries to bury his weak script in a chaotic, overly-choreographed nightmare of a scene where Nick Carraway meets Gatsby for the first time:

Or the moment when Nick rips it up with Tom and his mistress in NYC, inexplicably set to EDM:

Yes, that is the song "Can't Stop" by Flux Pavilion. Yes, the word "afternoon" randomly appears on screen at one point. Yes, it is awful. There's no denying that Luhrmann has crafted a unique, iconic style as a writer/director. It's just that, uh, his style sucks.

The Great Gatsby was a poorly received turd. His hyper-expensive Netflix show from 2016, The Get Down, was a monumental flop. Moulin Rouge! is the film equivalent of the dude who performatively drinks absinthe at a party. Luhrmann made his first and only good movie 20 years ago with 1996's Romeo + Juliet which, yes, still slaps all this time later, but come on—one solid film done with a heavy assist from the Bard himself does not make a career. Besides, Romeo + Juliet worked best because it knew it was over the top. You can't say that about any of Luhrmann's recent output.

The guy is the M. Night Shyamalan of cheesy, romantic epics. He tries too hard, fails too often, and has been coasting on the goodwill of one great film while cranking out dud after dud for way too long. Do not let this guy anywhere near an Elvis movie, no matter which random it-boy winds up in the starring role.

Please, for the love of all that is holy, someone stop him before this thing winds up winning an Oscar and Luhrmann is inspired to make a sexy Buddy Holly movie or whatever. The world does not need another gaudy rock biopic stuffed full of stylized setpieces and awkward dance numbers. We already have one Rocketman.

Romeo + Juliet
The Great Gatsby
Baz Luhrmann