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HomeMoviesIn Sofia Coppola's 'Priscilla,' we see what 'Elvis' left out : NPR

In Sofia Coppola’s ‘Priscilla,’ we see what ‘Elvis’ left out : NPR

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Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi star in Priscilla.

Philippe Le Sourd


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Philippe Le Sourd

Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi star in Priscilla.

Philippe Le Sourd

It is onerous to think about many viewers going into Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla utterly chilly, with no preconceived notions about Elvis Presley or not less than a imprecise consciousness of his marriage to Priscilla Beaulieu. That marriage, like practically each different side of the celebrity entertainer’s life, has change into the stuff of legend, stored lingering within the cultural ether by Priscilla herself and numerous Elvis biographies and biopics.

And if one is aware of even the slightest bit about this relationship – that it was initially sparked when she met him at a home get together in 1959 throughout his army stint in Germany; he was 24, and he or she was simply 14 on the time – then the premise of Priscilla might counsel a taboo minefield, albeit an intriguing one. There’s the hazard of falling right into a romanticizing entice, of downplaying simply how stark the age distinction was, of giving Elvis a go as a result of they had been in love, or one thing prefer it.

There is no want to fret about that, mercifully. Coppola’s glistening and brooding dissection of Priscilla’s life with Elvis reveals a clear-eyed imaginative and prescient for depicting the intoxication of fame and the way simply it is wielded upon the younger and impressionable. The filmmaker’s script, tailored from Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir Elvis and Me, immerses its viewers within the perspective of its topic as a younger woman, performed right here with emotional resonance by Cailee Spaeny. (Presley can also be an govt producer on the movie.) The casting is spot-on: Spaeny could also be in her mid-20s, however she’s impressively (and eerily) convincing within the function of adolescent Priscilla, possessing a youthful and nearly cherubic face and a winsome, awestruck vitality. Her efficiency, too, is hanging in its means to convey the in-betweenness of that age, of missing? self-confidence whereas striving for even a whiff of independence.

The movie reveals what it is prefer to fall below the spell of a a lot older and highly effective individual throughout your most adolescence.

Sabrina Lantos


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Sabrina Lantos

The movie reveals what it is prefer to fall below the spell of a a lot older and highly effective individual throughout your most adolescence.

Sabrina Lantos

As Priscilla meets and falls in love with the largest star on this planet on the time (Jacob Elordi, reprising his wounded-and-corrosive Euphoria vibes), the expertise takes off like a ’50s-era white woman’s teenage dream. (Frequent Coppola collaborator Philippe Le Sourd goes for that shiny Tremendous 8-ish aesthetic.)

However like an arthouse-y model of a Lifetime film – and I imply this as a honest praise – that fantasy incrementally morphs right into a dramatic blueprint for emotional abuse and the confines of patriarchal domesticity. As soon as Priscilla resides full-time at Graceland throughout her senior 12 months of highschool, together with her dad and mom’ permission, she lives an remoted, lonely existence; when not ostracized by classmates, she’s anticipated to spend the remainder of her waking hours sitting across the compound, ready by the telephone for at any time when Elvis calls her from the highway.

Her restricted in-person time with him additional emphasizes their disconnect; his bro-y entourage is all the time round, and he dictates each facet of their relationship, together with her hair, costume, and intimacy. (He rejects her sexual advances, claiming he’ll know when the time is “proper.” In the meantime, she bitterly reads the gossip mags as rumors swirl about his varied on-set affairs together with his age-appropriate film co-stars like Ann-Margret.) He will get her hooked on tablets and descends into bodily abuse.

Baz Luhrmann’s polar reverse of a spectacle, Elvis, solid the singer in a sympathetic, near-infantilizing mild (and hardly talked about his spouse); in Priscilla, although, the so-called king of rock-and-roll emerges trying like an egotistical, manipulative dirtbag as a romantic associate. Priscilla in the end finds herself trapped inside a glass menagerie of Elvis’s making, and the psychological suffocation is palpable.

Cailee Spaeny is impressively convincing within the function of adolescent Priscilla, depicting a highschool senior remoted from others at Graceland.

Sabrina Lantos


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toggle caption

Sabrina Lantos

Cailee Spaeny is impressively convincing within the function of adolescent Priscilla, depicting a highschool senior remoted from others at Graceland.

Sabrina Lantos

A montage successfully highlights the expertise of an imbalanced pairing, what it is prefer to get sucked into another person’s life. At one level, Coppola cycles by means of the repetitive pictures of the couple mendacity round in mattress, with daylight melting into darkish and into daylight once more, and the maid dropping off and leaving a meal tray, and dropping off and leaving a meal tray repeatedly.

Coppola’s insular method to the fabric is so engrossing that when the display abruptly cuts to black and the credit roll simply as a 20-something Priscilla leaves Elvis and Graceland for good, it is maddeningly irritating. The biopic topic stays shrouded in utter thriller, whereas her husband is coloured in with extra shades of gray. The deliberate alternative to finish the movie simply as she’s beginning to reclaim her personal life undercuts the facility of that last scene, particularly since we by no means get a glimpse of who she was within the few quick years she lived earlier than the musician entered her life.

Although that is the purpose, it appears: That is what it is prefer to fall below the spell of a a lot older and highly effective individual throughout your most adolescence. Has the real-life Priscilla ever landed upon a way of self other than Elvis? One can hope, but it stays true that within the public’s notion, she’ll all the time be inextricably tethered to his reminiscence. Priscilla solely reiterates this unhappy fact.

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