After an excellent year 2023 for cinema lovers, 2024 has its share of good surprises in store for cinema buffs. The year has barely started and there is already a gem to be discovered on the big screen. Screenwriter and director Sofia Coppola opens the new year with her brand new film: Priscilla.
After the acclaimed Elvis in 2022, filmmaker Sofia Coppola has chosen to give us another version of the King's story. Far from that told by Colonel Tom Parker in the film directed by Baz Luhrmann, we discover Elvis Presley through the eyes of Priscilla Beaulieu (who would become Presley), on whom the singer set his sights when she was only 14 years. A “detail” that is often omitted, but which is very important. With Priscilla, Sofia Coppola does what she does best: she takes us to meet a woman stuck in a golden cage. Here are 4 reasons to go see Priscilla at the cinema.
1) For the importance of talking about a little-known side of Elvis Presley
For many, Elvis Presley is an iconic figure in the American cultural landscape. A rock’n’roll icon, he has fascinated generations and enjoys disproportionate popularity. Under the influence of Colonel Tom Parker for years, the singer's story moved the crowds and helped to perfect the legend of the King. But history regularly forgets a less admirable side of Elvis Presley: that of a 24-year-old man who began a relationship with a 14-year-old girl. This is precisely what Sofia Coppola wants to tell in Priscilla.
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The film is based on Elvis et Moi, the autobiography of Priscilla Presley published in 1985. She candidly recounts her entire relationship with the singer. From their first meeting in 1959 to their divorce in 1973. By setting his sights on Priscilla, aged 14 when they met for the first time, Elvis Presley made the young girl his own doll. Subtly, he gets into his head and imposes his standards on him. What she can wear, colors and patterns, hair color, amount of makeup… He shapes her the way he wants. Very young and experiencing her first emotions, Priscilla obediently complies with all his demands to become the woman of her dreams. Elvis loves and cherishes Priscilla, but treats her like a beautiful object.
Despite everything, Priscilla does not go to war against the image of Elvis Presley. If Sofia Coppola shows here and there her outbursts of anger and violence and her toxic behavior, everything is subtle and nothing is done to gratuitously harm the King. Without completely stripping him of his nobility or making him a monster, Priscilla instead puts things in their place. Recall that in Elvis, his relationship with Priscilla, which lasted 14 years, is only briefly mentioned and shown. Less subtlety might not have hurt the footage, but it's a detail.
3) For themes specific to Sofia Coppola
Priscilla, it’s Sofia Coppola doing Sofia Coppola. When we look at her filmography, we see that the filmmaker captures the stories of young girls prey to a certain loneliness, who are bored in a gilded cage. His female characters experience several significant moments, signifying their passage to adulthood.
In Priscilla, everything is there. Priscilla Beaulieu was only 14 years old when her path crossed that of Elvis and she still had so much to learn. Although the teenager wanted this love story, which for her is like a fairy tale, she realizes along the way that this dream romance does not keep all its promises. That reality is not as glamorous as she would have liked. Abandoned by her love who goes on filming and touring, Priscilla is a pretty doll that we show off at parties. Behind the glitter, she is completely bored in the large house that is Graceland. Throughout Priscilla, we feel the immense loneliness of this young girl who left everything to follow her heart. Until she finally finds her freedom.
3) For the careful aesthetic of which Sofia Coppola has the secret
Sofia Coppola has a habit of dazzling us. So, Priscillaoffers a breathtaking photograph in pastel colors and which smells of hairspray. Visually, the feature film is a success. The costumes and outfits of the characters, especially those of Priscilla, make our eyes shine. The sets of Priscilla successfully immerse us in the 60s and 70s. We enjoy almost two hours in front of the big screen.
4) For Cailee Spaney's performance
Presented during the Venice Film Festival last September, Priscilla was praised by the remarkable performances of Cailee Spaeny (Mare of Easttown) and Jacob Elordi (Saltburn ; Euphoria ). But of the two, it is the actress responsible for representing Priscilla Presley who has us glued to our seats.
The young woman received the Volpi Cup for best female performance at the Venice Film Festival. After finally seeing the film, we understand that it was the least we could do. Cailee Spaeny wears Sofia Coppola's new feature film and captivates us. Touching while being solid, it manages to give depth to the complex character of Priscilla Presley. The Golden Globes are near. We wouldn't be surprised if Cailee Spaeny won Best Actress, a category in which she is nominated.
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