Sofia Coppola’s ‘Priscilla’ leaves viewer underwhelmed

Imagine meeting the most famous artist right now. Imagine they take an interest in you, invite you over often and share personal thoughts with you. You develop a relationship with this star, but they are not everything you thought they’d be. 

This is the premise of Sofia Coppola’s new biopic, “Priscilla,” based on the novel “Elvis and Me” by Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and Sandra Harmon. The film dives into the life of Elvis’ lover as she navigates dating a celebrity.

“Priscilla” was a gorgeous film, stunning to look at. Coppola’s soft color palette makes it feel like viewers have been transported into the 50s. It felt very nostalgic and, at times, romantic.

I will say, though, that the casting was terrific. Cailee Spaeny did an incredible job portraying the innocence and fragility of Priscilla.

However, romance was not the main focus of the movie. We watch Priscilla as she gets molded into what Elvis desires, starting when she is only 14 and he is 24. Watching it was a wild journey, yet I felt bored through most of it.

Obviously, Priscilla is the less famous member of the pair, given that Elvis is titled the “King of Rock and Roll.” This film allows us to see the other side of the story that we got a close look at with Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 film, “Elvis.”

The 2022 movie cast Priscilla as a background character, whereas she is at the forefront with Coppola’s. While it is a fascinating perspective, I feel this film was just another example of when the book is better than the movie. 

The book held many more essential details and scenes I would have liked to see in the movie. I understand that this movie is wholly focused on Priscilla, but the title “Elvis and Me” would have been a better fit, in my opinion, as the entire basis of the film is to show Priscilla as she is manipulated and essentially groomed into being the perfect woman for Elvis. 

The title “Elvis and Me” would have reflected this more than just “Priscilla,” as Priscilla’s life was not hers; it was his, and his name coming first shows that. 

I will say, though, that the casting was terrific. Cailee Spaeny did an incredible job portraying the innocence and fragility of Priscilla. Jacob Elordi as Elvis received valid skepticism, but this role could not have gone to anyone else. He is just perfect in these roles of toxic men. 

The voice, mannerisms and facial expressions were on point. If I were Austin Butler, I’d be livid. The only thing Elordi knew about Elvis before this film was what he saw in “Lilo and Stitch,” yet his depiction was amazing.

Interestingly, there was not a single Elvis song in the entire movie due to a rights issue, but I honestly feel that helped. However, I can see how it would detract from the viewing experience for many Elvis fans.

It is an interesting juxtaposition to the loud, rambunctious and drug-filled story of the 2022 film, but I feel there is no competition.

Although I felt it was important to showcase Priscilla’s story, I do not think the film did it in the best way. The novel highlights many vital details, some of which would have made the movie more straightforward and less tedious.

I’d recommend the book over the movie any day. Due to the excellent costume design, great actors and the conceit of bringing Priscilla’s story to life, I will give this movie more than one star. 


2/5 Stars


Featured photo courtesy of @priscillamovie, Instagram