Gutiérrez’s career is a lot like Nic Cage’s, but not quite as embarrassing. Elvis Presley casts a long shadow over
both. In fact, Gutiérrez insists people
call him Elvis. The Argentine tribute performer’s
lifelong passion veers into dark obsessive territory in Armando Bo’s The Last Elvis (trailer here), which screens
during the 2013 San Francisco Independent Film Festival.
day, Gutiérrez works on a factory assembly line. Nights and weekends, he performs as an Elvis
impersonator. He is actually pretty good
at it—arguably, too good. Gutiérrez’s
self-identification with Presley has severely strained his relationships with
the ex-wife he insists on calling Priscilla and their young daughter Lisa. Frankly, Gutiérrez is poor father
material. However, when Alejandro Olemburg
(a.k.a. Priscilla) is critically injured in a car accident, Gutiérrez suddenly finds
himself caring for Lisa. After some
initial awkwardness, Gutiérrez finally starts to bond with his daughter, but he
continues preparing for his mysterious tour.
some ways absolutely maddening, Last
Elvis is nonetheless a startlingly compelling film, in no small measure due
the real life Elvis tribute artist John McInerny’s dramatic and musical
performances. He has the voice, rocking
heartfelt showstoppers like “You Were Always on My Mind” and “Unchained Melody.” McInerny also wrings every possible ounce of
pathos out of the tragically “gifted” Gutiérrez, despite actions that should
profoundly challenge audience sympathy on paper. His father-daughter chemistry with Margarita
Lopez’s Lisa Marie is quite affecting as well.
Last Elvis is about as
stark and murky as music-driven films ever get.
Bo co-wrote Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful and it is not hard to see a kinship between the
films. Yet, Last Elvis’s commanding use of Presley/McInerny’s music hits home
even harder, especially for anyone who has been close to a struggling musician
or tried to make a go of it themselves.
Last Elvis screened
at last year’s Sundance and LA film fests, but largely flew under the radar. That is a shame, because it really packs a
punch. Audiences will be completely
unprepared for the power of McInerny’s work, especially given his late Elvis
look. Good for SF Indie Fest for
selecting it. Recommended rather
strongly for Elvis fans and patrons of Latin American cinema, The Last Elvis screens Sunday (2/10) and
Tuesday (2/12) at the Roxie Theatre and Thursday (2/14) and the Shattuck
Labels: Argentine Cinema, Elvis Presley, SF Indie Fest '13