Home Movie Reviews ‘Priscilla’ – Review
‘Priscilla’ – Review

‘Priscilla’ – Review


Elvis and Priscilla Presley. Both of them exemplify the ultimate American love story. There’s was a glamourous life of pure Hollywood dreams, and now celebrated filmmaker Sofia Coppola brings the story behind the romance to life in the beautiful and moving drama Priscilla.

When teenager Priscilla Beaulieu (Cailee Spaeny) meets Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi) at a party, the man who’s already a meteoric rock ‘n’ roll superstar becomes someone entirely unexpected in private moments: a thrilling crush, an ally in loneliness, and a gentle best friend.

The story of Elvis and Priscilla is a legendary romance that came to symbolize the quintessential Hollywood love affair. Their jet-setting romance was legendary, with both of them leaving a mark on the very fabric of pop culture. Through the lens of extraordinary vision, celebrated and auteur filmmaker Sofia Coppola, the story of the Presleys comes to light in a bold new conception that celebrates the King and Queen of Memphis. And audiences will easily get caught up in it. While you may think you know the Elvis story, Coppola’s film is not in keeping with the same style or tempo as Luhrmann’s acclaimed biopic. Instead, Priscilla sheds new light on the Elvis mythos via her perspective and the journey from girlhood to womanhood that she undergoes during the film’s narrative.

Framed uniquely from the point-of-view of Priscilla herself and adapted from her autobiography Elvis and Me, we follow Priscilla as a 14-year-old as she first meets Elvis while he’s stationed in Germany in 1959, and a relationship builds between the two of them that sees her moving to Graceland, and eventually marrying the King of Rock n’ Roll. It’s a whirlwind fantasy story as she falls into the fun and excesses of Elvis’s superstar Hollywood life. But the glitter of the party soon begins to fade as Presley’s antics, via the encouragement of his ‘Memphis Mafia’ leaves Priscilla weary, alone and isolated; it’s a side of the Elvis story that we’ve never really seen before. Coppala’s attention to Priscilla’s frame of mind and emotional vulnerability gives the film a dramatic edge that will leave audiences curious and surprised.

As a cinematic experience, Priscilla is beautiful. Coppola and her team re-create the glamour of the late 1950s to mid-1960s, and the resulting images are a visual spectacle for the eyes. Utilizing a range of crisp pastel colours and evoking the classic Hollywood style of the decade, the ambience of Presley’s jet-setting, glitzy lifestyle is infectious to witness, and you genuinely get the feeling of what it would have been like to live that life. Special praise must be given to cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd, who re-teams with Coppola following their work on The Beguiled, and again, they spin more of that special kind of magic on this picture. Le Sourd baskes the film in a glow of soft light that helps solidify the emotion and makes for a gorgeous presentation.

Cast as Priscilla Presley and given the role of bringing her story to life is rising star Cailee Spaeny, and she is an absolute revelation in part. Through Spaeny’s performance, we witness the growth of Priscilla’s journey from girlhood to womanhood, and she undergoes a considerable pattern of change as she falls into the world and rhythms of Graceland. In terms of a word to best describe Spaeny’s performance, the word ‘sincere’ works best, and Spaeny is very sincere in her representations of Priscilla’s journey throughout the film. She has a great range of emotions that she gets to play with in her performance as Priscilla and is true in keeping to her portrayal and honouring the real life that Priscilla led.

Starring opposite Spaeny’s Priscilla is Jacob Elordi, and his presence and swagger in the portrayal of the King is precisely why he’s tipped to be one of Hollywood’s newest A-listers. Elvis Presley was a massive personality of grand talent, and that’s precisely why Elordi is a fantastic fit for the role. He fits the mould of the Hollywood dreamboat, and ever the professional works hard to step into Presley’s shoes and bring Elvis to life. His portrayal of the King makes for a complex performance, with his Elvis being both true and loving to Priscilla but almost stuck in his sense of ‘arrested development’ that has afflicted him due to his sudden youthful fame. We also see a volatility in Presley and a sudden ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ persona in Elordi’s presentation of Presley that grows from the pressures around him. It’s a brave performance from Elordi and shows how far his range will take him in Hollywood.

Priscilla is an exceptionally intriguing and passionate film with a unique rhythm and style that will keep audiences on their toes. It presents the unexpected side of the Presley mythos that we have never seen before. All those involved have put in a lot of effort to make it a beautiful and exceptional watch.

Image: MadMan Films