Priscilla (2023)

Priscilla is a 2023 American biographical drama film written, directed and produced by Sofia Coppola, based on the 1985 memoir Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley (sho serves as executive producer). It follows the life of Priscilla (played by Cailee Spaeny) and her relationship with Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi). 

In 1959, 14-year old Priscilla Beaulieu is residing with her family in Bad Naheim, Germany where her father stationed in the US Military. At a party on the base, Priscilla maeets 24-year old famous singer, Elvis Presely, who is also in the military. Elvis takes an instant interest in Priscilla, and the two begin a casual romantic relationship despite her parents’ concern over their age difference and Elvis’s fame. Elvis eventually returns to the U.S. after his service and loses contact with Priscilla, leaving her disheartened. 

In 1962, Elvis reconnects with Priscilla, proclaiming his love for her and asks that she come to U.S. to live with him at his estate in Memphis, Tennessee, Graceland. Elvis purchases her a ticket to come, where she is welcomed by Elvis, friends and business partners, and his grandmother. The couple take a trip to Las Vegas, where Priscilla takes drugs with Elvis. An unkempt Priscilla returns to Germany, and with Elvis’ help, convinces her hesitant parents to allow her to move to Graceland and complete high school in Memphis in 1963. 

While her time spent at Graceland is happy, Priscilla is treated as an object of intrigue and ridicule at her Catholic school due to her association with Elvis. Though she is welcomed by Elvis’s grandmother and his staff at Graceland, Priscilla finds herself controlled by Elvis’s strict father and stepmother, and isolated during Elvis’s long trips away to Los Angeles, where he is shooting a number of musical films. On one occasion, Elvis has Priscilla model dresses for him and his friends, and encourages her to makeover her appearance by dying her hair black and wearing more eye makeup. Distracted by her new lifestyle, Priscilla manages barely graduate high school. 

Priscilla’s isoloation and compartmentalization of her life begins to take a toll on her mental state, which is made worse by the highly publicized rumors of Elvis’s alleged infidelities, including with his co-star Ann Margaret. Priscilla makes an unexpected appearance in Los Angeles to confront Elvis about the affair, but is stopped when Elvis threatens her and insists that she must accept his behavior. 

Eventually, in 1967, Elvis proposes to Priscilla, and the two marry. Their happiness is fading, however, as Elvis’s career pressures and worsening substance abuse negatively affects the couple’s relationship. Priscilla quickly becomes pregant, and gives birth to their daughter Lisa Marie, in early 1968, as Elvis is preparing for his comeback special for NBC. Priscilla struggles to navigate the relationship as Elvis grows more violent, and the two begin leading separate lives, with Priscilla spending most of her time in California, and becoming romantically involved with Mike Stone, her karate instructor. While visiting Elvis’s hotel room after a performance in 1973, Priscilla finds him intoxicated, and he makes forceful sexual advances toward her. 

Sofia Coppola’s approach in telling the story of Elvis and Priscilla is done very well, although the film is very slow for the majority of its runtime. You see Elvis treat Priscilla like a girlfriend, a wife, sexual object, and just a friend. You also see him being like a second father to her when he enrolls in her in school in Memphis and makes sure she does her homework. You not only learn her side of the relationship, but you also see how both of them were crazy about each other, and in one scene it shows them staying in bed for days and in another scene Elvis is shown taking lots of pictures of Priscilla. So you see the crazy in love side of the couple, as well as them living different lives. 

Priscilla starts to see Elvis’s flirty and unfaithful side when he flirts with a fan at a Bible reading, and she instantly becomes jealous, upset, and angry. She confronts him multiple times throughout the film about his infidelities, after she spots him flirting with a girl, and finds love letters from other girls. His anger issues come and go throughout the movie as well, a side that wasn’t shown as much in last year’s Elvis film with Austin Butler. You see in this film that Elvis was really crazy about Priscilla, but he couldn’t keep his hands off other girls and couldn’t stop his drinking and drug abuse. 

Cailee Spaeny does great job as Priscilla, though she doesn’t look much like the real one did, even though Priscilla helped choose her for the role. Jacob Elordi does a really good job, as far as acting goes, but the voice was not a very Elvis sounding voice, fading from Mr. Presley, to a normal southern accent. Elordi only sings once and it’s not even his own song, it’s Jerry Lee Lewis. He also only dances a few times and it’s more like a good Elvis impersonator you see in Vegas, than an actor that has actually studied the musician. Elordi does look a bit like Elvis but not as much as Austin Butler. 

This film shows sides to both Priscilla and Elvis, most don’t know of. You see the good and the bad, the sweet, funny, and sad. This film is very slow most of the  runtime, and the couple spends a lot time kissing, making love, staying in bed, and fighting. Had there been more scenes of Priscilla and Elvis in California, Vegas, or other places, and had it had less kissing and less sex scenes and been less slow paced, it sould have been more enjoyable. There were even times when I couldn’t hear what the two main characters were saying when they were whispering and I was in a theater. 

 The costumes, makeup, and hair were great and the soundtrack, as well as the scenery. The acting was really good, apart from Elordi’s bad accent. Sofia Coppola might not have the looks down perfectly for the main characters, but she does know talent, but she also is known for slow and depressing films. At least this one had some fun and sweet moments. As far as as what was the better Elvis related film, last year’s Elvis was A LOT better, even though this is Priscilla’s story, I just think the portrayal of Elvis was better and the acting was better too. Also it is too soon to revisit Elvis, Priscilla, and Graceland. 

I loved seeing her side of their relationship and how her parents just let their young daughter date and then move in with an older man when she was just a teenager. (Thank goodness he waits to marry her.) You wonder  at first what he saw in her apart from being pretty, (which she was), because you think she’s really nothing special, and she was pretty ordinary, but then you learn about her charm, her sweetness, her intellegence, and sexuality. You learn about how mature she was and how she at times was more like an adult in a teenage girl’s body and your opinion is changed. 

Not the best Elvis and Priscilla film, but not the worst either. The acting is good, the actors didn’t look that much like the real people they were portraying, and the accents are off, but overall, this a rather lukewarm telling of a former wife’s relationship with one of the most famous men in history. I bet Elvis and his daughter are rolling over in their graves. 18+ 3.5/5