HomeEntertainment'Priscilla' shows the dark side of Elvis and is Sofia Coppola at...

‘Priscilla’ shows the dark side of Elvis and is Sofia Coppola at her best

Domino – Credit: Ken Woroner/A24

They say you should never meet your heroes, but you Certainly You shouldn’t romance them abroad when you’re 14 (until they’re 24), let them smear you with pills, dictate what clothes you wear, and lock you in a mansion while they go out to fuck starlets and groupies.

Such is the fate of young Priscilla Presley in Sofia Coppola’s Priscillaa mesmerizing new film faithfully adapted from Presley’s 1985 memoir Elvis and me. As the story goes, Priscilla Beaulieu (played by Cailee Spaeny) meets specialist Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi) in September 1959 while stationed in West Germany. She’s only 14 years old, and he’s already a rock supernova, serving time in the military to satisfy the patriotic fantasies of his overlord, Colonel Tom Parker. The first two cross paths at a party at Elvis’ rented house, where his eyes look past all the age-appropriate women and train on the girl who’s out of place. While teenage Priscilla is understandably intoxicated by the music god’s pull, Elordi’s stare hints at something horrifying. It’s a scene that’s both adorable and entering the lion’s den.

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“Ninth grade? Why, you’re just a baby!” he exclaims.

Despite their age difference and his penchant for calling her “kid” or “little one” (yikes), the two quickly become inseparable. And Elvis is portrayed in the movie as friendly towards his teenage lover, as off-putting as their courtship over the years seems.stcentury eyes, confiding in her how much he misses the house and his late mother, and asking (and getting) permission from her parents to take her out on a date to the movies, or come to his house.

“He just lost his mom, and he’s still grieving!” cries Priscilla to her worried mother (Succession‘s Dagmara Dominczyk). “He trusts me!”

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Before you can say, “You’re nothing but a hunting dog,” Elvis has his claws deep into Priscilla. He’s all she can think about, because he’s the sun, one of the most famous and respected men on the planet, and he shines brightly on her. He could have anyone, she (and her parents) wonder, so why her? Maybe he’s a lunatic who got excited by how groundbreaking this is, we think. Their first kiss is set on Joan Jett’s cover of “Crimson and Clover,” one of several musical cues that knock Coppola — and Phoenix, her husband Thomas Mars’ band who scored the movie — out of the park.

But Elvis is honorably discharged from the army in 1960 and returns to the United States, while Priscilla is imprisoned in West Germany for another year and a half. They occasionally talk and write, with Priscilla learning about the rumors of Elvis’ affairs with Nancy Sinatra and the like through the tabloids. She’s a little jealous, yes, but most of all she longs for the moment when they will be reunited. That finally happens in the summer of 1962, when Priscilla, now 16, gets permission from her parents to visit him at Graceland, though he takes her to Vegas instead. It’s here where you really start to worry about Priscilla, as an exhausted Elvis hands her amphetamines to stay awake and Placidyl (a powerful sedative) to go to sleep. He gives her a 500mg dose of Placidyl the first time, leaving her in awe for two whole days. Both at his house and in Vegas, she tries to have sex with Elvis, but he refuses, though he says they can “do other things.” For what it’s worth, the real Presley has maintained that Elvis never crossed this line with her when she was underage, both at the Venice Film Festival press conference and in her memoir, claiming they waited until their wedding night to have sex. , when she was weeks shy of 22. In Priscillayou get the feeling that Elvis suffers from Peter Pan syndrome, and that he has fetishized her chastity to an alarming degree.

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In the spring of 1963, Priscilla moved to Graceland on the condition that Elvis’ father and grandmother guide her and that she finish high school. And it’s not long before things get going in Pygmalion, as Elvis chooses which outfits she can wear (and lets her try them on in front of the Memphis Mafia, even though she’s still a high school student), forcing her to to paint. putting on her black and eye makeup, and refusing to invite her friends over or work a part-time job at a boutique, even though he disappears for months at a time filming movies (and sleeping with his co-stars). She must be served at his beck and call, he says, otherwise there are enough women (girls?) who would gladly take her place.

“It’s me or a career, honey,” he tells her.

Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley in 'Priscilla.'

Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley in ‘Priscilla.’

Spaeny, who’s 25 but a convincing teen, is an absolute marvel, capturing Priscilla’s intricate medley of emotions – the wide-eyed wonder and youthful longing, apprehension and fear – while Elordi’s Elvis grounded more in reality. then feels the pouty Austin Butler. hip shaker. He’s sexy and charming, yes, but also dangerous and sometimes terrifying. And Coppola isn’t shy about showing Elvis’ dark side, as we see him humiliate Priscilla, throw a chair at her head, and almost sexually assault her in Vegas, saying, “This is how a real man should love operates. his wife.” (In her memoir, Priscilla wrote that Elvis “made love to me by force,” but she later downplayed her description of the incident.)

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You couldn’t wish for a better person to handle this material than Coppola, who is no stranger to portraying young female protagonists and the powerful men they like to lock up in gilded cages, be it the Park Hyatt Tokyo, the Chateau Marmont, the Palace of Versailles or Graceland. As the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, she is lived and is uniquely equipped to show what it’s like to put a big, flawed man on a pedestal and then watch that pedestal burst. Coppola reinforces Elvis’ hold on Priscilla through bursts of color and sound, while making every costume and car look perfect. She also makes the wise choice to let us see Elvis entirely through Priscilla’s eyes, bypassing the lengthy musical performances and scenes on Hollywood sets that plague more traditional biopics. This isn’t about Elvis’ musicianship; it is about her experience with him, and few films have so vividly captured the excitement, boredom, and fear of falling for a star.

People can blame Coppola for sticking her toe in familiar territory, but the result is hard to argue with: a transporting, heartbreaking journey into the dark heart of celebrity, and her best film since. Lost in translation.

Priscilla will hit theaters on October 27.

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