“THE LAST ELVIS”— Obsessed with Elvis

the last elvis

“The Last Elvis” (“El último Elvis”)

Obsessed with Elvis

Amos Lassen

Carlos Gutierrez is obsessed with Elvis and that means every day, 24 hours a day and because of it he is estranged from reality. He even eats peanut butter and banana sandwiches. He embarrasses his family and they have moved away from him. We see him when he suffers painful moments. An automobile accident brings him to his daughter, which just happens to be on the same day that Lisa Marie’s mother tries to get custody of her daughter. This parallels our hero’s own personal battle to connect with his own daughter.

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This is not so much a movie about Elvis or an Elvis impersonator but about hero worship and this film is a look at how one man has decided that he cannot face living as himself. Carlos Guiterrez (John McInerney) is an Argentine Elvis impersonator who refuses to be referred to by his real name anymore. He works in a factory during the day and tries to be something of a father to his estranged daughter, whose mother doesn’t trust him. He’s preparing to make a big move but when an accident brings his daughter into his temporary custody, his is forced to rethink his priorities.

McInerney is actually an Elvis impersonator and he is good. He sings passionately and his voice is magnificent. However, the real heart of this film lies in his performance off the stage. He struts with a cockiness and is full of himself in the confident belief that he is indeed the King. McInerney’s performance is quiet, subtle and devastating. His demons constantly battle beneath the surface as he allows his fantasy to take over. Throughout much of the film McInerney does not speak but Gutierrez’s frequent silences are impregnated with a deep sadness and rich melancholy.

Director Armando Bo does a wonderful job of bringing this to the screen. We meet Gutierrez for the first time, in character as Elvis, as he emerges from the shadows, totally confident. But backstage, following his show we see the real Gutierrez looking pallid and tired. When he is not Elvis he becomes invisible.

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It is not clear whether he lost his sense of self through his Elvis obsession or if he had already become disillusioned with his life and consciously chose to take on a different persona. It probably is a combination of the two. We certainly see Gutierrez as a lost soul who has all but given up on his own life.

His daughter brings him salvation—-he is a loving father even if he is aloof but as he spends more time with her, we see that there is a chance that he will put his Elvis persona aside. The film gives us a great deal to think about with the philosophical questions that it poses. As we watch Guiterrez we think about our own egos and self-esteem in the hope of learning where these come from. Guiterrez seems to be both determined and calculated but we never see him as a foolish character. He gains dignity because he was gifted with music; he is a really good singer. He does not become victim to his own delusion because he is just a man whose talents are incorrectly directed but in a way that has something to say about culture and celebrity in today’s culture. The film seems to be heading toward reconciliation at the end but then there is the decision to go to Memphis. We wonder if he is real and if he is crazy. Regardless this is a fantasy film that pulls us in.

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