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Priscilla Movie Review

Photo courtesy of IMDB.

Over the past weekend while scrolling through Max, I saw that “Priscilla” had made it to streaming platforms and decided to watch it. I knew what the story would be about but I was not prepared to watch a film with such beautiful cinematography and how much I would love it. The movie follows Priscilla Beaulieu played by Cailee Spaeny as she enters a relationship with the much older Elvis Presley played by Jacob Elordi and moves to Graceland with him and enters his complex world of stardom. The movie is loosely based on Priscilla Presley’s memoir Elvis and Me and other stories from Priscilla’s life meeting Elvis in Germany, moving to Graceland, and having their daughter, the late Lisa Marie Presley. 


The film was directed by Sophia Coppla who also directed Marie Antoinette, The Virgin Suicides, and Lost in Translation. The film comes out just a year after the hit movie Elvis starring Austin Butler came out which depicted Elvis’ life and rise to stardom. There are many differences between the two films, the main one being that Elvis centers around Elvis Presley and Priscilla centers around Priscilla Presley. But the most notable difference between the two films is that the Elvis movie not only portrays Elvis in a much more positive light but also his relationship with Priscilla, while Priscilla portrays Elvis and his relationship with Priscilla in a much darker light. For me, it is hard to be able to compare these two films considering how different they are, but that has not stopped some people from choosing which of the two films they liked better and criticizing the other. However, I am not going to discuss the Elvis film, instead I will solely be focusing on Priscilla and explaining the plot, then the general public opinion on the film, and then my opinion on the film.  


Spoilers Ahead About the Plot 

The film starts with both Priscilla and Elvis being in Germany where he and Priscilla’s father are both stationed. Pricilla is then invited to one of Elvis’ parties where she meets the famed Rock n’ Roll musician who takes an immediate interest in her. They begin to hang out regularly and the relationship becomes romantic. But, Elvis then has to return back to the United States to continue his career and they lose touch. 


Priscilla is still not over him, so it is to her delight that two years later Elvis calls her and asks her to come visit her at his property in Tennessee, Graceland. After lots of convincing,Priscilla’s parents agree to let her go to Graceland and visit Elvis for a bit. Priscilla makes it to Graceland and the two of them are super happy to be back together again. Later in her trip, Elvis takes Priscilla to Las Vegas where they have a great time with all of Elvis’ friends. Priscilla then returns back to Germany where it is clear to her family that she is no longer happy there and misses Elvis. 


A year or so later after Elvis proclaims he loves her to her parents and that he will make sure she is taken care of and finishes school. Her parents are convinced, and she is allowed to move to Graceland and live there. But living there is not what Priscilla was hoping it was going to be. With Elvis being in Los Angeles most of the time shooting movies, Priscilla is left alone at the house and becomes very lonely. After Priscilla graduates high school Elvis tells Priscilla that she should dye her hair and fix her teeth which Priscilla does to please Elvis. Priscilla learns of the supposed affair between Elvis and his co-star Ann-Margert while they were filming Viva Las Vegas. Elvis explains that it is just for publicity and gets aggressive with her. Later, the two of them marry in Vegas, and shortly after, Priscilla becomes pregnant. After becoming pregnant Elvis suggests that the two of them go on a break which as Priscilla walks away Elvis apologies. But after the birth and because of Elvis’s continued drug abuse the two grow apart as Elvis continues to rise and Priscilla becomes closer to her karate instructor.  Then, when visiting Elvis after a performance in 1970 Priscilla tells him that she is leaving him. The movie ends with Priscilla driving away from Graceland. 


Public Opinion

The film has been received with mixed reviews so far from various groups. Those who love Elvis are not a fan of this film, since it depicts Elvis as an abusive partner towards Priscilla considering that it is well highlighted that Priscilla was only in 9th grade when the two met while Elvis was in his 30s. Those who are not really fans of Elvis believe that the film does a great job of depicting the two of them as real people instead of characters or mythical legends. One Letterboxd reviewer Paul had this to say about the film: “Priscilla’s brought into Elvis Presley’s world in the way of the dreams of many young girls around the world. There are times she enjoys it but it drains her. It takes years away from her.” 


Another Letterboxdreviewer Kevin Yang had the complete opposite to say about the film, “A disappointingly toothless biopic, scenes rendered flat and wooden by strange editing and awkward dialogue, noticeably lacking an emotional core to smooth over those issues.” Another critique of this film is the fact that some argue that the film romanticizes abusive relationships, which although I do not agree with, I can see how the film can be taken that way. While both reviews and all critiques are valid, I find myself siding more with Paul’s review considering how much I fell in love with the film and its aesthetic. 


My Personal Opinion

In my opinion, I loved the film and thought it was a beautiful biopic, although I might be biased since I love Sofia Coppola and everything she does. I loved the whole aesthetic of the film, especially the opening scene with Priscilla getting ready. I mean if there is one thing that Sofia Coppola does right, it is being able to put what being a teenage girl is like into a couple scenes. I think what this movie does so well is being able to demystify Elvis. After watching this film the legend that was Elvis sort of died in my mind, and he became an abusive drug abuser who groomed a young girl. I left the film being so sad about what happened to Priscilla. She was so young and was physically, mentally, and emotionally abused and controlled by Elvis. While the film does have some very cute and heartwarming moments, it also is heartbreaking and definitely a movie I will continue to talk about and recommend to everyone. 

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