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The Hollywood Insider Priscilla Jacob Elordi

In the Summer of 2022, Baz  Luhrmann’sElvis‘ premiered in theatres across the country. The biopic, starring Austin Butler as the title figure, reminded past generations of the famed singer and taught younger generations of the Elvis hysteria that took over the world before they were even born. Not only did these younger generations learn of the Elvis Presley legacy, but they also reignited a love for this icon. TikToks of teens visiting Graceland with remixes of “Viva Las Vegas” and “Suspicious Minds” swept the For You Page.

Later that year, writer and director, Sofia Coppola, revealed on her Instagram page that she would soon begin production on ‘Priscilla’. This film would be based on the book Elvis and Me, written by Elvis’ wife, Priscilla. Set pictures soon leaked of Jacob Elordi, of ‘Euphoria’ and ‘Saltburn’ fame, playing the King of Rock and Roll.

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Sofia Coppola is not only the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, director of ‘The Godfather’, but she has defined her own writing and directing style that makes her films distinct from that of other female directors and writers. The way sets up each scene to tell you exactly who each character in the film is and where they are, with messy rooms and soft camera hazes. Her most notable films include The ‘Virgin Suicides’, ‘Marie Antoinette’, and the Oscar-winning ‘Lost in Translation’

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The film tells Elvis and Priscilla’s love story, beginning in 1959, after Elvis was drafted into the military and served in Germany. Priscilla met Elvis when she was fourteen, and Elvis was twenty-four-an age gap that causes today’s audiences to raise an eyebrow. In 1962, Elvis invites Priscilla to move in with him in Graceland, much to her family’s dismay. Priscilla soon moves in with Elvis for her senior year of high school, and the two get married five years later. While the story is told from Prsicilla’s perspective, we see a darker side of the icon. Elvis is seen giving Priscilla unknown pills, engaging in rumored affairs, and even throwing a chair at Priscilla, all while attempting to hold up his All-American sweetheart image for the public. These dark moments have never been shown onscreen, and even the age gap between Elvis and Priscilla is a little-known fact that past films have declined to elaborate on within their stories.

Even before the film was released, ‘Priscilla’ was no stranger to controversy. Even though Priscilla Presley herself served as an executive producer on the film, the late Lisa Marie Presley sent Coppola an email of her feelings regarding her father’s portrayal in the film. She writes “My father only comes across as a predator and manipulative…As his daughter, I don’t read this and see any of my father in this character. I don’t read this and see my mother’s perspective of my father. I read this and see your shockingly vengeful and contemptuous perspective and I don’t understand why?” Sofia Coppola soon responded to her email, stating “I hope that when you see the final film you will feel differently, and understand I’m taking great care in honoring your mother, while also presenting your father with sensitivity and complexity.” Even the Elvis Presley estate did not approve of the film, as no Elvis songs were allowed to be utilized in the film and on the film’s soundtrack.

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Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaeny dazzle as the star-studded couple. Elordi’s past roles prove that he can do it all. He can be sweeter than candy, and extremely angry, and this film truly shows both sides of his range. Though I wish he had a little more diction within his Elvis Presley dialect, I was able to suspend my disbelief and believe that this was the King of Rock and Roll. We truly see Elorid’s range within this film. However, the true star of this film is Spaeny. She put her whole heart into the character of Priscilla. We see her grow from a wide-eyed teen to a woman who knows she must be strong for herself and her daughter in the midst of divorce. Her struggle of trying to be supportive and stand by her husband, while questioning his motives is truly heartbreaking. We feel for this girl every moment she is on screen, and we can tell exactly what is happening in her head. Spaeny truly embodies Priscilla. This is what makes an actor.

Of course, it is impossible to speak about a Sofia Coppola film without speaking of her utilization of imagery throughout the film. A large part of Priscilla’s identity was demonstrated through her personal beauty routine and style. We get sequences of Priscilla getting ready, applying her eyeliner and her long false lashes, and spraying hairspray on that big, beautiful poof. One thing about Coppola? She makes sure we have a look into her protagonist’s style. Priscilla’s looks were iconic. Her makeup and hair routine are identifiable from a mile away. A woman’s beauty routine tells audiences so much of who she is., and by including these montages, we learn so much more about Priscilla than we would have if we had only seen her interactions in Graceland. We see Priscilla change her routine from simple to extravagant as she moves from Germany to Graceland.

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Personally, I thought that the film was an interesting look from a perspective that audiences rarely see. The trope of focusing on the artist, while their supportive girlfriend watches from the sidelines has become a large pet peeve of mine. When is the love interest of the artist going to be the focus of the story? Why don’t we hear from her side? The film does feel like a large build-up, as the majority of ‘Priscilla’s’ 113-minute run-time focuses on Elvis and Pricilla’s time in Germany and before their marriage. The film almost feels as if it ends before it begins, as the ending features Priscilla driving away from Graceland with her daughter while “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton begins to play. Even though I wish I could have seen more of Priscilla gaining her own identity after Elvis, this scene moved me to tears. The bittersweet yearning in Parton’s voice paired with the image of a young woman beginning her new journey outside of her image as Elvis’ wife reminded me of the power that comes with walking away. Priscilla is discovering who she is, if not associated with Elvis.

Nobody, even celebrities, is perfect. While it can be true that someone may be famous and do philanthropic work, this does not make this figure a perfect human being. On the contrary, it is important to note that the conversations and cultures around relationships and toxic masculinity were very different in the 1950s and 1960s than they are today. Though this doesn’t make wrongdoings excusable, it gives audiences of the films a different perspective to look at. Not to mention, it reminds us that our favorite celebrities hide their secrets from their fans to hold up the parasocial relationship and positive lights they want to be held in. Though Elvis’ actions demonstrated in Priscilla’s account do not change the good that he has done, and vice-versa, this film, as well as the 2022 Baz Luhrmann biopic serve a prominent message to audiences and fans… multiple things can be true at once, and the way that you think is up to you.

Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi

Creator: Sofia Coppola | Writer: Sofia Coppola | Producers: Sofia Coppola, Youree Henley, Lorenzo Mieli | Cinematography: Philippe Le Sourd | Editing: Sarah Flack

By Abigail Johnson

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.”

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