Priscilla Review - Val Ruloff
At last, Priscilla's story!!
Or maybe not "at last". The story is so well known and familiar to so many, out there in popular culture as it so decidedly is. The film is based on Priscilla's autobiographical book, written and then published some thirty-nine years ago. This means, of course, that the emphasis is very much upon a particular period of Priscilla's long life... a factor more accurately reflected by the title of the original book, "Elvis and me". The title of the film does, however, very accurately reflect the perspective of the subject of this film's own story, Priscilla herself.
It's always interesting to look for something new, discover fresh insights and revelations with regard to film biographies. The story unfolding during the course of "Priscilla" did not really teach anything not already well documented and in the public domain, but for quite a percentage of viewers the film might provide a bit more of an introduction and the opportunity to learn about the events portrayed. The film did score a resounding achievement with regard to conveying some challenging events whilst preserving a message of sensitivity.
This is especially so when consideration is given to the desperately poignant and sad events being relayed.
It's also very important to remind ourselves that Priscilla is still living. Elvis has not been alive for almost forty-seven years now. That can be a determining factor in how a story is able to be told. Significant too, is that inevitable comparisons will be made with the flamboyant, vibrant extravaganza that was the "Elvis", 2022 , film and the stunning performance by Austin Butler.
Priscilla is a very different film, in a very different style and sets a very different mood and different tone.
The performances by Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla and Jacob Elordi as Elvis are strong... and merit congratulation. Priscilla Presley has executive producer role credited to her for this Sofia Coppola film production, also written and directed by Sofia Coppola.
Sofia Coppola is most probably an altogether perfect choice for this project. She has a sometimes under recognised reputation for exactly the genre and subject content of a film such as "Priscilla".
Subtlety, layers and textures (not least the sumptuous costume fabrics, luxury soft furnishings and deep-pile carpeting underfoot) are all in the frame during the course of Priscilla's story. There are deeply sensitive, sometimes uncomfortable and distressing issues covered within the scope of the story and these are quietly juxtaposed with the tenderness of a teenaged girl growing into womanhood whilst experiencing an exceptional and unique situation that seemed initially to represent a dream come true to the fan of a popular music idol.
It was interesting to note some of the after-show comments to suggest the "slowed" pace of the film at times, but on reflection this seemed to be entirely consistent with the subtle and gentle portrayal of the nature of events as they gradually took place at the beginning of the story.
Gilded and lavish lifestyles, excess and extravagance are also on proud display with all the accompanying shiny veneer and sparkles and glittering glory. The era is beautifully captured and photographed. The costumes and the cars and the locations all evoke this par excellence.
The music score is superb and integral to the story, especially with reference to one of the film's main characters of course. The music transports the audience to the exact period of time during which Priscilla met and then married Elvis. Suddenly, the sounds of modern tunes then begin to play and the audience are jettisoned right back to contemporary times, with modern sensibilities and frames of reference.... just like a bolt from the blue.
The iconic views of Elvis's Graceland home, interior and exterior Graceland scenes and those in Las Vegas and Germany are a joy.... right up until the final scene which features Graceland. The latter absolutely knocks it out of the park with its powerful message of finality.
I'm going to vote with my feet... and go along to view Priscilla again!
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