Directed by Sofia Coppola, Priscilla takes audiences on a journey through the life of Priscilla Presley, played by the talented Cailee Spaeny, and her complex relationship with the legendary Elvis Presley, played by Jacob Elordi. For those unfamiliar with Priscilla's story, the film unfolds as a slow-burning, bittersweet eye-opener.
One of the standout characteristics of Priscilla is its meticulous attention to every detail which works to amplify the film's overall tone. The color palette of grays and blues stand out as the first notable feature, which could be described as a "dusty daydream." This choice aligns perfectly with Priscilla's story, reflecting the magical allure of being chosen by America's heartthrob, Elvis, against a backdrop of haunting moments in their relationship. It's a subtle reminder that appearances can be deceiving. The film's soundtrack is another obviously curated aspect, with each song guiding audiences through the years in Priscilla's life. Alongside these elements, the production design shines as a character in itself. From Christmas cards to prescription bottles, the props and sets create a visual narrative of passing years that mirrors the film's timeline.
As for the protagonist herself, she stands as a testament to the power of transformation. Spaeny's portrayal of Priscilla's evolution, from makeup and costumes to her nuanced acting, is remarkable. In the role of Elvis, Elordi's casting is a smart choice, allowing younger audiences to understand the magnetic appeal of the iconic figure.
The film's storytelling is rewarding, offering a glimpse beyond flashy headlines. Priscilla's journey goes far beyond that, characterized by peaks and valleys in her relationship with Elvis. Moments of isolation illustrate the entrapment Priscilla felt in the life she chose at just 14 years old. Unlike many headlines, the film introduces more characters, including her parents, Elvis's entourage, and caretakers, and highlights the shockingly permissive environment that allowed a relationship between a 14-year-old and a 24-year-old to exist. Fame intoxicates everyone, with Elvis being the most jaded.
Though the story is rich, its adaptation for the cinema presents challenges. The first and second acts are well-paced, but the third act feels rushed. It transitions into what feels like a series of vignettes and moments in the later years of their relationship, lacking the cohesion of a continuous storyline. The rapid scene changes, such as Priscilla's visits to Elvis outside of Nashville, can momentarily disorient the audience. Additionally, the ending, while portraying Priscilla's strength, lacks the expected climax, rendering it somewhat anticlimactic. This could be an accurate representation of real-life events, but for cinematic purposes, it may come across as underwhelming.
Priscilla is a confidently crafted film with a rich narrative that might have benefited from a longer run time, though perhaps no duration can fully capture this complex story. The film masterfully explores the life and relationship of Priscilla Presley and Elvis Presley, offering an intimate view of the woman behind the spotlight and the challenges she faced.