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Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi star in Sofia Coppola’s newest biographical film that bridges across the life of Priscilla Beaulieu and how she met famous rock-and-roll star Elvis Presley.
“Priscilla” Movie Still
Cailee Spaeny in “Priscilla.”

Sitting in a quaint, small-town Iowa theater, the film to be seen before me was one I was highly anticipating. Being a fan of the aesthetic and thematic work of Sofia Coppola’s movies, I knew “Priscilla” would live up to its name, in terms of visuals. The film first premiered September 4, 2023 at the Venice Film Festival, and apparently got a seven minute standing ovation after it showed. “Priscilla” was officially released on Nov 3, 2023 by A24 in limited theaters across the United States, hence why I had to travel to Iowa to see it. The movie is based on the 1985 memoir, “Elvis and Me,” written by Priscilla Presley herself. It follows the life of Priscilla Beaulieu, (Cailee Spaeny) before she became entwined in the life of Elvis Presley, (Jacob Elordi) who was taking the world by storm in the age of rock-and-roll. 

The movie starts very Coppola-esque. A satin blue drape covers the screen, displaying “Priscilla” in black letters. The use of blue and black to display the title of the movie was particularly clever, as one of Priscilla Presley’s signature looks is dark hair and eye makeup which makes her blue eyes pop. 

A young Priscilla, just 14 years old to be exact, is living with her family in 1959 Germany, where her father is stationed in the U.S. Military. Priscilla is sitting at a retro diner, where one of Elvis’ friends invites her to a party at his house at the base. After much persuasion from her parents, Priscilla attends, and this is where she meets the man that will change her life drastically. One of the most troubling aspects of the film and the situation that Priscilla was actually in, was the startling ten year age gap between her and Elvis. Priscilla touches on this in her memoir and provides her perspective on this complicated issue, and in both the memoir and film it is clear that Priscilla wasn’t forced into anything. At the time, she was just a naive teenager swooning over one of the biggest names in the country.

Eventually, the two began dating, sprouting their complex love story. With Elvis going back to the states, long-distance made things more convoluted for the couple, as Priscilla already had to deal with the doubts of her parents regarding her new relationship. One of the first instances in the movie where it is evident that Priscilla’s life is going to change, is when Elvis asks her to accompany him in Las Vegas for a weekend. Priscilla switches out her simple do for an outfit to better match his. However, the weekend at Las Vegas also proved the first instance Priscilla became exposed to sleeping pills which she took regularly throughout the course of the film.

The prospect of cutting the long-distance and finally moving to Graceland seemed ideal for Priscilla. The first couple days at Graceland were spent mingling with Elvis’ secretaries, who were really the closest thing she had to ‘friends’ there. But as time went on, Priscilla realized she didn’t know what to do with herself when Elvis was working at the studio and touring. Despite the endless shopping, charming new hairdo’s, and lavish gifts she received at Graceland, all she really wanted was to be with Elvis. 

In “Elvis and Me,” Priscilla Presley touches on times where Elvis would become physically violent with her. Though he was loving, he had his outbursts. One of the incidents was depicted in the film, where Elvis had asked Priscilla her opinion on some of his new music. Her answer wasn’t what he was looking for, and he angrily threw a chair at her that was inches from hitting her. 

This brings me back to Priscilla’s signature style. Her dark black hair and eye makeup, paired with her striking blue eyes. Was it really ever hers? In the film, Elvis is the one that prompted her to change the way she looks. It went beyond her hair and makeup, but even to the way she dressed, who she talked to, and how she led her life. Jacob Elordi, who played a truly exceptional Elvis towers over his costar, Cailee Spaeny. This dramatic height difference further emphasizes the true dominance Elvis has over Priscilla. It exacerbates the trapped feeling Priscilla has and exemplifies a common theme of isolation prevalent in most Sofia Coppola films. Throughout the film Priscilla will only continue to struggle with isolation and doubt, as she reads about the tabloids on Elvis’ alleged infidelities. 

One thing I wish the film included was more insight on Priscilla’s thoughts. A simple voiceover or more dialogue in the film would have sufficed. Although the plot of the film fell short at times, the aesthetics of it were top tier, from the visuals to the soundtrack. 

Despite hardships, the film shows the two getting married, and replicates their infamous wedding photos. Shortly after getting married, Priscilla becomes pregnant with her daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. Soon after, Elvis reaches the point in his life where he is starting to struggle more with substance abuse. Their relationship soon became volatile and increasingly toxic. The dark side of fame caught up to Elvis, leaving him in a state of despair, one that Priscilla simply cannot fix. In the end, Elvis’ despair is what frees Priscilla from her trapped life and pulls her from the roots of her isolation. In an instant, she packs her bags and drives off in her 1963 Chevrolet Corvair, away from the gates of Graceland. The gates that once seemed promising, but didn’t allow her a life of her own. 

Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi in scenes of “Priscilla.”


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About the Contributor
Eimaan Azimi
Eimaan Azimi, Editor in Chief
Hi! My name is Eimaan Azimi. I’m a senior at Elkhorn South. This year, I am an Editor in Chief for Storm Alert. My favorite kinds of stories to write are opinion and features. This year, our Storm Alert Staff is back and better than ever, and I look forward to unfolding the stories of Elkhorn South along with the rest of my team!

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