Verdict: Cailee Spaeny gives an impressive performance in Sofia Coppola's eye-opening movie

  • Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi, Ari Cohen
  • January 1st 2024
  • Sofia Coppola

Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi play Priscilla and Elvis Presley in Sofia Coppola’s biographical drama.

Many people will know Elvis Presley’s story – which was showcased in Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 movie Elvis – and now Sofia Coppola has retold it from his wife Priscilla’s perspective.

The biographical drama depicts Elvis (Jacob Elordi) and Priscilla (Cailee Spaeny) first meeting in Germany when she was 14 and he was 24 and then charts their tumultuous relationship and marriage.

Priscilla, based on Presley’s memoir Elvis and Me, doesn’t paint the most flattering picture of the music legend.

While fans around the world were jealous of Priscilla being Elvis’ wife, this film suggests that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Elvis is shown to be emotionally – and occasionally physically abusive – to his wife. He controlled everything from her appearance to when they saw each other (so she was frequently isolated at Graceland), gave her pills and guns, and forbid her from getting a job.

Over the course of the movie, Priscilla starts to long for a life and a purpose of her own and we see her little rebellions against his control and witness her growth as she matures and develops a sense of agency.

The highlight of the film is Spaeny’s performance, which rightfully won her the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival.

She convincingly charts Priscilla’s evolution between 14 and 27. While the hair and make-up help, she makes subtle differences to reflect her age – how she holds herself, how she smiles, the pitch of her voice.

Her face is so expressive and tells you everything you need to know without her saying a word.

Coppola also deserves praise for the look of the movie given its modest budget. The production and costume design and hair and make-up are stunning and you would never know it was filmed in Canada in 30 days instead of Graceland.

The only downside was Elordi as Elvis. He simply didn’t look or sound the part, the accent was inconsistent and he didn’t become Elvis like Spaeny did with Priscilla.

Coppola’s latest movie presents the Elvis story from a completely new and unexpected perspective. His fans probably won’t be too impressed with this eye-opening tale!

In cinemas from Monday 1st January.

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