Elvis Is an American Tragedy. Elvis Is Just Tragic

The Singer's Story Has a Lot to Say About This ‘Pitiful Country’—But Baz Luhrmann's Biopic Ain’t Nothin’ But a Dog

There’s much to be said about Elvis Presley, the quote-unquote King of Rock ‘n’ Roll who shook the country as a white kid singing Black America’s music.

But despite its nearly three-hour run time, Elvis, the new Baz Luhrmann biopic, stays about as black and white as the racial divide it seems to suggest Presley alone could cross.

Most baffling is how incurious the movie is. It never engages on more than a surface level with the racism of the Mason–Dixon-lined country that catapulted Presley to fame. Nor is it interested in …