Set against the toxic presidential campaign, Promised Land by award-winning director Eugene Jarecki shows America in what one protagonist calls its “fat Elvis” period — spiritually wrecked and bloated by greed for money and power.
The ambitious two-hour film puts one of American pop culture’s most successful products under the microscope, as it unpacks the myths and broken
“I would love to play a man. For an actress that’s the ultimate challenge,” the French star who admits to “reading a lot of the Marquis de Sade at the moment”, she said at the Cannes film festival on Friday.
The French actress, who made her name playing icy murderers, sado-masochists and abortionists, has teamed up for a third time with Michael Haneke for Happy End, which is in the running for the festival’s top prize. AFP promises that have left the country dejected and divided.
“We had been beautiful once, and we rose to a height too young too fast, and then we got addicted. So I started to talk about this metaphor because there were so many parts of the American story that I could express that way,” said Jarecki.
He sets Promised Land around travels in a “ghost car” — a Rolls-Royce Phantom that Presley owned. Along the way he picks up passengers including Alec Baldwin, Ethan Hawke, Ashton Kutcher and The Wire creator David Simon to reflect on Elvis’ legacy, fame, race relations and the fate of the
AFP American republic.
Jarecki cruises through depressed communities in the Deep South, talking to struggling white and black working class families, before hitting the other stations of Elvis’ life, including New York, Los Angeles and finally gaudy, vice-ridden Las Vegas.
He interweaves late-era rhinestone-jumpsuit Elvis performances with Trump speeches from the campaign trail, drawing parallels between what he calls hollow pledges by the Republican candidate and the pitfalls of casino capitalism.
“Trump is a cry for help by America, as it would’ve been if
Star Wars (French far-right presidential candidate Marine) Le Pen had gotten in here,” Jarecki said.
He critiques what he sees as the potentially fatal flaws of the US system including “Why We Fight” about the military industrial complex and “Freakonomics” on economics and human nature.
He said he came upon the idea of the Elvis metaphor when he was travelling across the country to promote 2012’s The House I Live In on the drug war.
“Audience after audience of Americans just looked heartbroken about the system and about the death of the American Dream,” he said. AFP
Isabelle Huppert Elvis Presley