Friday 29 March 2024

Movie Review: Priscilla (2023)

Genre: Biographical Drama Romance  
Director: Sofia Coppola  
Starring: Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi  
Running Time: 114 minutes  

Synopsis: In Germany of 1960, 14 year-old Priscilla Beaulieu (Cailee Spaeny) is the daughter of a US army Captain. She meets an already famous 24 year-old Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi), who is finishing his army stint at the same base. Elvis senses a connection and they date a few times before he returns to civilian life and stardom in the United States. But he does not forget about Priscilla, and more than a year later invites her to his Graceland estate in Memphis. She is exposed to his entourage, frequent absences to movie sets and affairs with co-stars, and pill use. Eventually Priscilla realizes Elvis needs her as a domestic anchor and moves in with him while still attending high school.

What Works Well: The adaptation of Priscilla Presley's book offers an inside look at a superstar riding the wave of peak popularity. As interpreted in pale pastels by writer and director Sofia Coppola, Elvis found in Priscilla stable purity as an antidote to an otherwise hectic life. On balance he treats her well and only consummates their relationship once married, but in return demands patient presence irrespective of her needs. The film stays with Priscilla inside Graceland's gates to empathize with her confinement, Elvis often reduced to a phone voice and gossip page presence.

What Does Not Work As Well: For the most part, Priscilla herself does precious little other than serve Elvis' emotional needs through mere existence. As a young woman infatuated early in life by a larger-than-life presence, she does not know enough to have adult opinions, make major decisions, or take consequential actions. The vacuum of interest at the biography's core fuels a gnawing sense that the much more interesting story is elsewhere.

Conclusion: Dreamily occupies the shadows behind the spotlight.

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