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Priscilla

Cailee Spaeny plays Priscilla Beaulieu Presley as an observer whose interests, desires, and agency are being suffocated in the oppressive rooms of Graceland.

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Almost Barbie: in the first shot of Sofia Coppola’s film PRISCILLA, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley sinks her barefoot into the soft carpets of Elvis Presley’s stiflingly plush residence “Graceland.“

When Priscilla Beaulieu Presley’s autobiography “Elvis and Me“ came out in 1985, Elvis had died less than 10 years before. The focus of the bestseller was on the wild behavior of Elvis and his entourage behind the doors of Graceland, but the book was also an apology. Elvis died three years after Priscilla left him. The rumor mill blamed her for the star’s downfall. Coppola’s film, co-produced by Priscilla Beaulie, is the story of disillusionment, disappointment, and depression. The 14 year old daughter of a Texan army family is approached by an officer in Germany in 1959 (“Do you like Elvis Presley?“) and invited to a party at Elvis Presley’s. Coppola films their first meeting like meeting a god. Cailee Spaeny plays Priscilla as someone who can’t believe that she has arrived in the holiest pop heaven and its ruler is speaking to her. Priscilla’s parents are fully aware of the inappropriateness of the affair, but they don’t know how to prevent their daughter from associating with Elvis.In 1963 they allow Priscilla to move to Memphis, in 1966, Priscilla and Elvis marry.

Sofia Coppola’s great gift is creating atmosphere. Graceland, the glamorous projection screen of a country, is a spirit-killing, stifling prison with low ceilings and tight spaces where Priscilla sits on a couch with no joy or friends and looks for places that aren’t watched by Elvis’ mother Grace or father Vernon. While Elvis is off with his entourage or having parties with buddies that are less excessive than they are childish, Priscilla remains a decorative object that Elvis has arranged according to his ideas. Her needs, her sexual desire, her interests, her appearance: everything is determined by Elvis' simple rather than bizarre and eccentric ideas and his staid double standards; friends and acquaintances are forbidden.

Coppola is less concerned with the liberation that Priscilla ultimately experiences. Their separation is part of the film, her career as the talented comedian in the NAKED GUN films isn’t. Coppola is keyed into a physical feeling. PRISCILLA is a film on barbiturates, which Elvis gives Priscilla at the beginning of their relationship. A film like a carpet you sink your feet into.

Tom Dorow (INDIEKINO MAGAZIN)

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

USA 2023, 110 min
Genre: Drama, Biography
Director: Sofia Coppola
Author: Sofia Coppola
DOP: Philippe Le Sourd
Montage: Sarah Flack
Distributor: Mubi
Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi, Kamilla Kowal, Jorja Cadence
Release: 04.01.2024

Website

Screenings

  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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