6 min read

‘Priscilla’ the antithesis to (2022) Elvis

‘Priscilla’ the antithesis to (2022) Elvis

This year was quite big for big name directors. Ari Aster’s Beau Is Afraid, Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, Garett Edward’s The Creator, William Friedkin’s The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, David Fincher’s The Killer. Damn that’s exhausting. You get the point. Now we get to Sofia Coppola, daughter of one our greatest filmmakers, Francis Ford Coppola. Sofia was able to stand out on her own as she broke out with her feature film (1999) The Virgin Suicides and has made films, that even with mix reviews, connect to many people. Her film this year is Priscilla based on the novel by Priscilla Presley Elvis and Me

When I saw the trailer to Priscilla it was a bit peculiar since we just had Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis last year, which earned Austin Butler a Golden Globe and nomination at The Academy Awards. I loved Butler’s performance in that film and as soon as I saw this trailer and notice Jacob Elrodi as Elvis, I said to myself he doesn’t even look like Elvis. But it’s cool I get it, they don’t have to look exactly like him. In the trailer you can see it has Sofia Coppola’s style which is what drew my interest to it. Plus I also would rather be supporting Directors like her than the studio machines. I feel in this day and age as film lovers we have a duty to go and support them to keep getting quality films instead of me getting taken advantage of my money.

As it got closer to the release I started to feel like I wasn’t going to watch it. I don’t know if it was this what’s the word “machismo” I guess. I started to feel like maybe this will be “too girlish” for me or this is a “girls movie”. I told myself well if you want to review films you have to watch different kinds of films and don’t get me wrong it’s not a thing against female directors. I have my list of the ones I enjoy. I said well you want to watch it, go watch it and then talk about what you felt, did you like it? Was it horrible? Decide on your own. Are films really just for boys or girls? They’re for everyone.

When I went online to purchase my ticket I saw that most of the seats were already taken which was another motivator for me to go see it. I just hate it when big directors films are put in the smaller rooms. This room wasn’t big as they would give a Marvel/Disney movie, but it was decent enough. As I got my food at the concession and go in there and settle down in my seat, the group to my left came in ana sat down I started to get annoyed. They just kept talking loudly and laughing like some teenagers and I’m like how they’d get tickets? Isn’t this rated R and they don’t put the title outside the room anymore. I know I’m complaining. A grump. I just like to enjoy my movies and stay focus. These girls seem like they would never stop. Then the rest of the group on my right side comes in and girl next to me is on her phone with the brightness up catching my eye. I didn’t want to say anything as I might be older and would be considerEd mean. Also it was weird as the row I was in was full and I was in the middle and the rest were girls. Right and left. When the movie started the girls got excited and the one on my left started to take pictures on her phone when Jacob Elrodi would come on screen. They just kept giggling and talking and through out the film another girl you can hear every 30 minutes saying “I hate him”. I really miss the ushers that would walk in with a light wand so people would know to not be distracting. I’m sorry. No, not really. I do miss them.

I have to say the moment Priscilla starts I was already impressed with the cinematography by Phillippe Le Sourd. It starts with Priscilla at a Diner with this low contrast which makes her seem like an outcast, lonely and she is young at this time. I have heard stories about Elvis getting with her when she was underage. Just last year I took a music class and got in a discussion with my friend about it and when I brought Elvis up I was surprise to what he had to say. Let’s just saying he wasn’t a fan. As she ends up in this life with Elvis, colors start to pop out which might represent that fame, or joy of being in love, wealth of Priscilla‘s life from what it was before she got involved with The King of Rock & Roll. Credit has to go to the production designer, costume designer. One scene I can remember takes place in California and they’re outside the house and everything is Yellow, Jacob is wearing a yellow shirt and I don’t know where they were but I thought that’s a good way to use that color as a representation of Sunny-side California. It shows the location difference. 

There is a scene that did well with the editing. I believe this is after Elvis has left after the first time they had spent time together and there is shots of the calendar pages being ripped off showing the passage of time and Priscilla just waiting for Elvis to call. It cuts to holidays cards and more. But the way it’s done was impressive.

The soundtrack kills in this film. There’s really no original Elvis music here as they weren’t allowed by the Elvis estate for not being part of the process. But I think the music choices are just fine. It gives it its own sort of escapism. It’s similar to Baz Luhrmann’s work like (2013) The Great Gatsby. Which again is kind of funny because Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla seems to be the antithesis of (2022) Elvis

The beginning of the film really tries to tell the audience how Elvis was taking advantage of this underage girl. It got uncomfortable at times. Then it gets to how Elvis’s drug use goes to her too. She’s this innocent young girl who somehow feels she got lucky getting this stars attention. It doesn’t help that Cailee Spaeny 25 years old still has a face of a freshman or they did a really good job on making her look that way. You end up sympathizing for her. There’s a moment where Elvis starts telling her to dye her hair black and put more make up and to me as this was happening I said my god this is her transforming into a whole another person the way a superhero does the moment they get there powers, costume or something is creator and doesn’t go back. Her old self is gone and now she’s officially the Priscilla Presley I think most of us know from the pictures.

As the story continues on it gets worse. You see at the start of the film I said how it feels like Priscilla is an outcast and lonely and maybe finally getting to live with Elvis she might of felt her whole life would change for the better, but to me watching, it’s seems like nothing change or got much worse. As soon as he gets to Graceland she seems to be put aside by Elvis‘s family, even him as he has to go on on business as she is left alone. I mean he did get her a puppy, but how will they communicate. There’s a long period of time where Priscilla basically has no friends or female friends and is just around Elvis’s friend, guys and nothing else. Even when she tried to make friends with the girls who handle Elvis’s fan letters she is scolded for it. There is no one for her to talk to especially when you’re dating a super star who all the girls want. 

This film doesn’t paint Elvis in a good light, it’s unlike the other depictions of him. Which is probably why I enjoyed it. After seeing this you can understand why Lisa Presley had an issue with it. It’s her dad you’re talking about here. You see how aggressive he can get it’s a mix Bipolar disorder and Narcissism. I mean there are scenes that are shocking and as soon soon as it overs it’s annoying and laughable as Elvis apologizes literally after he did something horrific. My eyes rolled. One has to remember this is Priscilla’s movie, Priscilla’s story not Elvis’s.

I know what I said about Jacob Elrodi after watching the trailer, but as soon as he comes on, I mean I didn’t know Elvis or exist during his time, but he does come out like what Elvis would be like. To me he is just as great as Austin Butler. I think the performance’s from both are phenomenal.

(2022) Elvis comes out like, yes a Baz Luhrmann’s film, but you can also see it’s a Warner Bros Studio film. Sofia Coppola’s is more of an “indie” film, and art film. Which I think is just fine and Priscilla Presley picked the right Director to tell her story. If someone enjoys the Presley stories, hates Elvis, loves Priscilla, are a Sofia Coppola fan or  just enjoying getting another perspective from this famous story Priscilla is defiantly a movie to see. I enjoyed it and think it’s one of the best films of 2023.