Sofia Coppola has made a name for herself as a director with a unique and distinct voice. Her films, such as Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides, are known for their dreamlike atmospheres and intricate character studies. Coppola once again showcases her directorial prowess in Priscilla, a captivating exploration of the life of Priscilla Presley, the woman who stood beside the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Priscilla is Coppola’s unmistakable style. From the opening shot, you get a sense of the type of filmmaker she is, and the atmosphere she creates is unforgettable. Her films are often characterized by their subtlety, attention to detail, and ethereal aesthetics. Priscilla is no exception to this, as Coppola skillfully immerses the audience in the world of the Presleys, sometimes in the glitz and glamour of Elvis’s fame and more often in the quieter, more intimate moments of Priscilla’s life. The cinematography from Philippe Le Sourd features soft lighting and elegant compositions, which perfectly complement Coppola’s signature style.
Coppola’s adaptation of Priscilla’s 1985 memoir Elvis and Me allows the audience to connect with the characters on a profound level. Not only do we find ourselves enriched in the makeup, lipstick, and 50s soundtrack, but she takes a refreshing approach, focusing more on Priscilla Presley than on Elvis. This shift in perspective brings Priscilla’s experiences, struggles, and growth to the forefront, giving the audience a fresh and nuanced portrayal of a woman married to the most famous person in the world.
Jacob Elordi’s portrayal of Elvis Presley is nothing short of phenomenal. While Austin Butler’s recent portrayal of the iconic musician in Elvis received critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination, Elordi brings a different, more subdued take on the character. He captures Elvis’s charisma and magnetic stage presence while delving into the man’s vulnerability and complexity. We see a side of Elvis that we don’t see portrayed in media very often. He exists through the eyes of Priscilla this time around, and that creates a perspective that allows us to not only respect him but be puzzled by him and sometimes fear him.
However, Cailee Spaeny’s multifaceted performance as Priscilla Presley truly steals the show. Playing Priscilla at various ages throughout the film, Spaeny embodies the character with depth and authenticity. Her ability to convey the transition from a young and starstruck teenager to a woman with her own identity is nothing short of remarkable. The chemistry between Spaeny and Elordi on screen is palpable, making their portrayal of the iconic couple both convincing and emotionally resonant. Spaeny’s portrayal of Priscilla’s journey, from a young girl mesmerized by Elvis to a strong, independent woman, is one of the film’s emotional anchors.
Priscilla is not your everyday biopic; it is an intimate character study that transcends what we have seen from the genre lately. Coppola’s approach allows the audience to delve into Priscilla’s inner world and the complexities of her relationship with Elvis. Through her lens, we witness the highs and lows of Priscilla’s life, from the exhilarating moments of sharing Elvis’s fame to the quiet struggles of finding her own identity in the shadow of the King. It takes itself as seriously as a romance movie, but the hook here is that one of them is a rock and roll legend. Seeing scenes of Priscilla’s exciting life with Elvis juxtaposed with scenes of her in high school really drives Coppola’s point home.
Although the film can sometimes suffer from feeling one-note, it takes you on quite a ride. We see the way Priscilla gets looked at, the things she wears, and how Elvis shapes her into the woman he wants her to be. We see her reaction to his high-profile love life, and Coppola always knows when to leave the camera on her face. As the movie ends, it feels as if it tapers off without drawing any surprising emotions. However, her journey is quietly powerful and remarkable to behold.
Priscilla is a cinematic gem that pays tribute to Priscilla Presley, providing an intimate, emotionally resonant portrait of her tumultuous life. Sofia Coppola’s directorial voice and style shine brightly in this film, bringing her unique approach to the world of biographical cinema. Elordi’s faithful portrayal of Elvis Presley and Cailee Spaeny’s mesmerizing performance as Priscilla must be seen to be believed. Priscilla is a compelling drama that showcases the power of love, sacrifice, and growth. It’s a testament to Sofia Coppola’s skill as a director and her ability to craft emotional, powerful stories that transcend the ordinary. Although it has a few issues here and there, this is a must-see film for anyone who appreciates thoughtful and visually stunning cinema.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.
Disclosure: ComingSoon attended the New York Film Festival for our Priscilla review.