Eugene Jarecki takes to the road in Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls Royce in The King. The documentary’s narrative itself is like Jarecki’s luggage – crammed-full and seeping out of the zippers. However, this stuffed film is interesting in ways thought-provoking open discussions can be.
Part of The King chronicles Presley’s life and career as a rising musician, an icon, and his unfortunate older years. While discussed before at length, Eugene Jarecki puts a new spin on the biographical retelling by inviting famous fans of Presley’s to add their own knowledge and appreciation of the musician, while also allowing current musicians to share their own opinions and talk about how Elvis influenced soul music as well as their own musical craft. These interviews are usually recorded from inside the Rolls Royce, giving this documentary a consistently casual pace even though sometimes it resembles a long episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
The other half of the film consists of these aficionados applying Elvis’ legacy to define and elaborate on “the American dream”. With the help of other esteemed outsiders, Eugene Jarecki develops some intriguing theories and ideas he illustrates with amateur video and news footage reflecting the current condition of the United States of America.
The King gradually broadens its scope to encapsulate more themes, but this dimishes the doc’s impact; especially when Jarecki becomes less particular of which celebrities he interviews for the project. However, even though the filmmaking becomes more general, The King still offers audiences a new way to look at a legend and an all-American way of life.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie