Magazine article Screen International

'Promised Land': Cannes Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Promised Land': Cannes Review

Article excerpt

Eugene Jarecki follows Elvis's trail across America for a cultural and political road trip

Dir/scr. Eugene Jarecki. USA/Germany/France. 2017. 117 mins

With Promised Land using the rise and fall of Elvis to look at the comparable fate of America since his death, framing its thesis through his lyrics is simple: what was once a hunk of burning love is now nothing but a hound dog. Indeed, were his point not so pertinent director Eugene Jarecki could be accused of brandishing a suspicious mind in his latest polemic against the current US societal reality. America is caught in a trap, he posits, and can't get out.

Unsurprisingly in a documentary which follows Jareck driving Elvis' Rolls Royce across the country before the 2016 election, metaphors flow freely; however this Cannes title possesses an intellectual hit rate on par with its subject's musical successes. Jarecki's piercing ideas on fame, power, money and corruption should help it swagger towards an audience beyond its assured future festival berths.

High-profile talking heads including Alec Baldwin, Ethan Hawke, Chuck D, Emmylou Harris, David Simon, Mike Myers and Dan Rather should also assist in broadening the film's appeal; this isn't just an effort for Elvis fans and American politics aficionados.

As Jarecki rolls from Elvis's birthplace of Tulepo, Mississippi through Memphis, New York, Hollywood and Las Vegas, many of his passengers show affection to the singer, but the film delves deeper - and film bites harder. …

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