By Anna Harman
When I first heard of Sophia Coppola’s new film “Priscilla” about the life of priscilla Presley, I was super excited to see this film. I watched Baz Luhrmann’s biopic “Elvis” last year and that sparked an interest in learning more about the Presley family. However, this film was nothing like what I expected. Priscilla Presley herself helped to produce this film, so I knew that the story would be well done and respectful, but I couldn’t have expected the sheer pain behind her story.
First, the age gap between Priscilla and Elvis when they first met and began dating felt very odd to me. It may have had something to do with the fact Elivs (Jacob Elordi) was so much bigger physically than Priscilla (Cailee Spaeny) in the film that made it so awkward. Elivs was 24 when he met 14 year old Priscilla in Germany, so it was a very uncomfortable situation that the film mirrors. I think the directors definitely wanted the audience to feel the depth of that age difference and feel the awkwardness of it.
One thing that really surprised me about the story in the film was how lonely Priscilla was portrayed as. From what I’ve heard and seen in the past, I thought that her relationship with Elvis was very romantic and close, but I never realized just how rocky their relationship was, even in the beginning. Cailee Spaeny did an amazing job portraying Priscilla in this film and displaying the raw emotion and turmoil I imagine Priscilla felt in real life.
Watching her struggle with all of these emotions in the film and sacrifice so much for Elvis and seeing how much she changed herself for him was absolutely heartbreaking. I think the world is used to viewing Elivs in a positive light as a well-loved, talented musician and rock-star, but I think people have been mostly oblivious to the ways he may have been flawed, especially in his relationship with Priscilla and his family. There were moments where Elvis would get aggressive verbally or physically with her because of the drugs he was on, and he cheated on her numerous times all throughout their marriage and most likely their dating relationship as well. These were just a few things that she dealt with that the film showed us.
There were definitely good moments that were shown in the film as well, but I think the point of “Priscilla” was to show the painful moments and the struggles Priscilla faced behind-the-scenes. It was such a different perspective from what we’ve been allowed to see for a long time.
Despite the issues Priscilla and Elvis faced, Priscilla openly shares her love for him still to this day. Even in the film, she clearly loves him and stays loyal to him even when he mistreats her. Her love for Elvis was so deep and she dealt with so much before they finally got divorced. Even after the divorce, she talked highly of him and continues to help maintain Graceland, a huge tourist attraction honoring him.
My one and only complaint about this movie is that I don’t think Jacob Elordi looks very much like Elvis, even in costume. There were glimpses of Elvis here and there, but I thought he was too tall and had a totally different facial structure from the real Elvis. I think that Austin Butler in the film “Elvis” was a slightly closer match. I would say that Cailee Spaeny did resemble Priscilla well in this movie though, especially once she started wearing the signature black hair and eyeliner in the film.
Overall, I would say that I recommend this film if you want to learn more about the intimate relationship between Elvis and Priscilla and what went on behind-the-scenes. This heartstring pulling story is one to remember, and is made with both a commitment to truth and an artistry that will make that truth stick harder.
“Priscilla” is in theaters now.
Anna Harman is a senior Christian Education major and also a reporter for Cedars. She appreciates writing, chai lattes, flowers, and going to concerts.
Images courtesy of A24.