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The Eastern Echo Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

Priscilla poster.jpg

Review: "Priscilla" spotlights the dark side of the Presleys' marriage

The film follows the relationship between Priscilla and Elvis Presley, and from Priscilla's point of view, it shows the abuse she endured.

Arthouse indie studio A24, known for films such as “Midsommar” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” has released their latest film “Priscilla.” The film is a biopic following Priscilla Presley, the wife of Elvis Presley, and their entire relationship from their first meeting to their divorce. 

Priscilla Presley herself is an executive producer and it is based on her memoir “Elvis and Me.” The film was directed by Sofia Coppola and stars Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla and Jacob Elordi as Elvis.

Highs

Elvis was 24 when he met and fell in love with 14-year-old Priscilla. Their relationship was tumultuous, to say the least. “Priscilla” does not shy away from this. The film emphasizes how young she was, contrasting romance with an adult Elvis and scenes of her at school and multiple characters questioning if he should pursue someone his age.

Throughout the movie, the relationship only gets more and more chaotic. The portrayal of Elvis is starkly different from the cultural idea of him. He is controlling, impulsive, aggressive, and at times even violent.

Spaeny’s acting shines as she portrays a gradual loss of girlhood. She shows her range with soft-spoken sweet nothings, angry outbursts at her husband, and trembling expressions as she tries to hold everything together. 

The film takes place over the course of 15 years. Spaeny showcases this growth gradually with her acting while the makeup and costume department works to visually show what era each scene is in. Priscilla and Elvis visually age both in their changing, period-specific fashion.

The cinematography makes the film beautiful to look at. Taking advantage of daylight throughout to give a natural and at times hazy appearance. This light is also used throughout to emphasize important characters or objects, illuminating each scene’s focus.

Lows

Elordi’s acting is stilted and at times one note. He brings little emotion to Elvis, leaving the cultural idea of Elvis to explain why Priscilla fell for him. His recreation of Elvis’s unique speech patterns sounds like mumbling. Even in a theater he is difficult to hear during some lines, especially when he’s whispering. 

The film could have been edited a little more. At their best, the long, lingering shots allow the viewer to sit with the emotion and plot, or are simply beautiful. At their worst, they are gratuitously mundane, one scene just shows Elvis walking from his car to Priscilla’s house.

Verdict

“Priscilla” is a stark contrast to Elvis as an icon. It reframes the king of rock and roll in a different, less flattering light. Despite his fame, the movie is not actually about him. It is a quiet, thoughtful character study about Priscilla. The story is timeless in how it discusses girlhood lost.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars.

Frank Remski is a film and theater reviewer for the Eastern Echo. He is majoring in media studies and journalism and minoring in public relations. He has worked for The Echo since the summer of 2023 and has written both news stories and opinion pieces.