Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis came to our screens with an energy almost similar to that of the real Elvis Presley. The summer of 2022 was all about this movie, stealing awards left and right anywhere the film was nominated. We know of Priscilla as the doting wife of this rockstar, and also mother to their child, Lisa Marie Presley who passed away very shockingly earlier this year. Now, with the Elvis storm settled in Hollywood, Sofia Coppola now swoops in to share the story of the other half of that relationship, in her latest, Priscilla. And without a doubt, this film is definitely going to be quite the rollercoaster.
Based on Priscilla’s own memoir Elvis and Me, the film’s sole frontrunner is Priscilla Presley, and narrates the events and nature of her relationship with Elvis. The world did not know much of her, as women were expected to run homes and families as their sole duty. Coppola’s Priscilla, like most of her female-led films, presents to us a woman who is trapped under the guise of love and luxury. Quite simply put, the filmtears the curtains down and shows truly what her life was like with the King of Rock and Roll. Jacob Elordi gives a seamless performance as Elvis Presley. Whether or not his voice sees the same fate as Austin Butler’s is a question of the future.
Priscilla premiered at the Venice Film Festival last month and received a 7-minute standing ovation. The film was received so well that Cailee Spaeny, in the titular role, has already received a Best Actress awards for her performance. The trailer for the film dropped earlier this week, and even a short glimpse like this is enough to unsettle you. This is very much not the heady romance that we so far thought the couple had shared. Behind the picture-perfect family lurks a myriad of startling elements about the couple that we did not know of.
If Luhrmann thought that he might have added to the immortalization of Elvis through his film, Coppola is quickly coming to make a parallel of her own to this success. It was also necessary to have a film like Priscilla today. Elvis Presley has been perpetuated throughout decades now, as the rockstar who had girls swooning over him at his shows and also otherwise. The world knew of Priscilla, and had an idyllic image of their life at Graceland. It is now, through this film, that the true story of Priscilla Presley is out for the world to see for the first time.
But the important question is, was there a need of this movie, despite the commercial and critical success of Elvis? The answer is, yes. A hundred times yes.
In a very Coppola-esque way, Priscilla is a take on the feminine counterpart of this relationship. The film shows how Priscilla was attracted to Elvis very early on, and the charms and naivety of teenage and first love in the 50s. But once into the marriage, Priscilla is nearly abandoned in it. While her husband busies himself with rock-and-rolling the world, she is coerced into living a life secluded in his mighty shadow of fame. In the trailer itself, we get to know that Priscilla did not even like her iconic look that the world knows her with in the first place. Her lonesome life and romantic isolation in this very public relationship seems to be the drivers of the movie.
In her memoir, Priscilla shares some incidents in which Elvis is quite starkly opposite to how most women think of him to be towards women. In the movie, Elvis is seen hurling a chair at Priscilla – the same woman who he had pursued in her teenage years (they met when she was 14). Elvis even had her living with him in Graceland way before their marriage. When confronted about his affairs with other actresses, Priscilla was always lied to, saying that the rumors were a promotional necessity for Elvis. The world will know through this film, that what it saw of Elvis’s life with Priscilla was only on a superficial level, when Priscilla was actually living a different life of her own. The movie covers how this relationship became very polar: beginning with a dreamy teenage affair to being at wits end with each other at the end. In reality, their marriage lasted only six years.
The films also has clashing remarks from Priscilla Presley herself and Elvis’s team. The latter has experienced their distaste in the film, for obvious reasons. Priscilla, on the other hand seems to in extremely good spirits for the movie, and is looking forward to see it play on the screen. Luhrmann’s Elvis does paint the star with some flaws, but the Elvis in Coppola’s Priscilla is not his guitar-wielding rockstar self. Coppola shows Elvis as the husband and individual behind closed doors, the side of him that the world had limited knowledge of.
Being an A24 film, you can already expect a lot from Priscilla. The name is behind some of the best Hollywood projects in recent years, including Oscar-winning ones. A24 is quickly becoming a worthy competitor to big studios in the industry. If Barbie and Oppenheimer are running for Oscar nominations, so can Priscilla with a meagre $20 million as their budget. Coppola was restricted to this amount while filming, often finding it difficult to continue shoots for the days ahead. She was also denied rights to use Elvis’s music in the film, and she’s managed to get such positive critical reviews without it. This is probably because of the first time that the larger audience is getting to see the Elvis-Priscilla dynamic from Priscilla herself.
Given the current chatter about this film, Priscilla is sure to fire up a storm when it releases. The film hits theatres on 3rd November this year, and we bet it’ll be a strong contender for the award season that follows. With noteworthy performances and stellar storytelling, Priscilla is sure to leave its mark on viewers this winter.