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Priscilla (R) ★★★

By November 12, 2023November 13th, 2023Backstage Pass

Writer and director Sofia Coppola’s new biographical drama “Priscilla” explores Priscilla Presley’s relationship with her husband, Elvis Presley. “Priscilla” is based on the 1985 memoir “Elvis and Me” written by Priscilla Presley–she also serves as an executive producer. Coppola’s dreamy slow-paced style brings us back to a young girl who was in 9th grade, and only 14 years old. She finds herself involved with a famous man in the entertainment business who is 24 years old. I enjoyed the film, as the actors portrayed well-known iconic people with depth and precision, making each performance their own. Cailee Spaeny stars as Priscilla and won this year’s Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival. Jacob Elordi stars as Elvis in a spot-on performance.

The story focuses on Priscilla’s life with Elvis as he works in LA while she reads the tabloids at Graceland all centering on the love affairs he’s having while making Hollywood films. Elvis called her his ‘child bride’ and treated her more as a plaything than a wife. Sofia Coppola said in the press notes,” I felt there was a much more interesting story to tell—about a girlish wish that came true but wasn’t what she imagined, about coming-of-age inside both incredible fame and great loneliness, about how people learn to live inside of bubbles and also feel the need to burst them, about the strength it took to for her to realize that as much as she loved Elvis, she had to go. Elvis was such a vital part of American cultural history, but Priscilla’s life is equally part of that history.”

I find Sofia Coppola’s filmmaking style like a breath of fresh air. Here, she’s created a wistful yet serious film of reflection on Priscilla Presley’s life. It’s a sad, cautionary film, yet one can see why Priscilla Presley has devoted her life to preserving Graceland, as that’s where she grew up and spent years with Elvis. I also give this film more validity as Priscilla was on set during the filming and was the perfect person to tell this long-awaited story. In the interest of leaving surprises while viewing, I will refrain from divulging new facts I learned as they surprised me. I wasn’t a true Elvis fan but like and appreciate his music. I agree with Coppola; Priscilla’s story needed to be told, warts and all, particularly the drug use at such a young age.

Sarah Knight Adamson© November 9, 2023