Priscilla, which premiered on the New York Movie Competition, earns 3.5 stars (out of 4) from Us Weekly film critic Mara Reinstein.
If Elvis introduced the King of Rock ‘n Roll as a razzle-dazzle music icon struggling together with his demons, Priscilla performs like the opposite aspect of the document. The softer aspect. And a mandatory one.
Tailored from Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir, Elvis and Me, Priscilla is extra-noteworthy as a result of it’s written and directed by Sofia Coppola (Misplaced in Translation, Marie Antoinette) — an Oscar winner who focuses on depicting ladies seeking their identities. Her stylistic method is a 180 degree-contrast from that of Elvis director Baz Luhrmann: As a substitute of frenetic set items in a neon-lit Las Vegas, Coppola provides her audiences heat close-ups of false eyelashes and nail polish bottles and ‘60s-style mod attire. “Colonel” Tom Parker is simply referenced and never seen — whew.
However past the candy-coated floor, Priscilla presents a transfixing and tart portrait of marital loneliness set in opposition to the backdrop of Elvis’ Graceland property. And whereas the heroine on the heart is younger and wispy-voiced, she’s no idiot speeding in.
Their story is so outlandish, you’d be forgiven for assuming some particulars are exaggerated. Sure, Priscilla Beaulieu (Cailee Spaeny) actually was only a pony-tailed 14-year-old dwelling together with her dad and mom on a West Germany navy base in 1959 when she scored an invite to a home social gathering hosted by one Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi). The star, on hiatus for Military service, is immediately smitten. So is she. A brief dialog results in one other, which results in date nights with chaste kisses.
Regardless of the eyebrow-raising 10-year age hole, the movie maintains that Elvis loved Priscilla’s firm as a result of he was homesick for the U.S. and grieving his not too long ago deceased mom and he or she listened intently to his troubles. At the same time as Priscilla will get older, he doesn’t wish to sleep together with her. (Once more, might this be true? Properly, Priscilla herself, now 78, serves as an govt producer.)
This unconventional courtship takes a surprising flip as Elvis asks a then-17-year-old Priscilla to dwell with him at Graceland in Memphis. To some, the association would possibly look like a shiny fairy story — however Coppola is meticulous in revealing all of the fascinating cracks.
Elvis provides Priscilla capsules to go to sleep and extra capsules to remain awake. He additionally expects her to complete highschool and costume demurely and dye her hair from mousy brown to jet black. If it looks as if Priscilla is simply an uncomfortable teen enjoying costume up, that’s as a result of she is! There’s a wild juxtaposition between the scenes during which she handles a gun after which tries to move a check in school.
Because the movie progresses, Spaeny’s Priscilla grows from lovestruck teen to a extra remoted and pissed off spouse and mom. Elvis travels for lengthy intervals to movie motion pictures and sing in Vegas, however the digicam stays planted on an deserted Priscilla rattling solo within the shag carpet-covered mansion.
With few pals to lean on, her predominant pastime is studying gossip magazines about his many amorous affairs. When Elvis is dwelling, his habits is erratic and controlling and sometimes violent. However neglect about any ultra-melodramatic “that is my Oscar clip!” fights or a nail-in-the-coffin revelation, as one would possibly anticipate from a confined film chronicling a pair’s rise and fall. Priscilla simply decides this chapter — her marriage to Elvis — is over. Underwhelming? Certain. It’s additionally probably true to life.
Spaeny and Elordi share an unsettling chemistry. The actor is twice as tall as her, suggesting that he’s all the time bodily in management. (It additionally underlines the characters’ age distinction.) Whereas Austin Butler inhibited the star’s swagger in Elvis; Elordi’s model is a sweeter and smoother soul who’s a little bit of a stranger to his personal spouse. This isn’t a pair sharing intimate secrets and techniques and witty repartee. Spaeny, who nimbly performs ages 14 to 24, turns into much less wide-eyed and apple-cheeked with every passing second and but nonetheless loves her man. It’s a superb line between besotted and starstruck, and he or she walks it with grace.
From Jackie to Spencer to the current Maestro, many biopics of late have showcased the lady behind The Man. Priscilla’s power is that it refuses to current its main woman as a tormented sufferer attempting to get by. Coppola’s movie simply asks Elvis followers to look at and empathize with the one one who by no means wished him to depart the constructing — as a result of she wanted him dwelling together with her.
Priscilla, the centerpiece choice of the New York Movie Competition, opens in theaters on November 3.