Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaeny in ‘Priscilla’ A24

Sofia Coppola’s latest offering, “Priscilla,” is a simple and complex story of love found and love lost and love found again and you guessed it, love lost. A story that has been told before but the players this time just happen to be one of the biggest talents in music history and one of the loves of his life. Based on Priscilla’s 1985 memoir ‘Elvis and Me’, the story that we see on film takes a gentle pace and shows an intimate character study making “Priscilla” a thoughtful and complicated tale.

Set against a backdrop of how Priscilla saw her storybook love affair with Elvis Presley that turned from endless magic to never-ending despair, the film introduces us to an innocent Priscilla, played brilliantly by Cailee Spaeny, who embarks on a journey of self-discovery when it seems her main goal is to be the forever obedient love of a constantly evolving Elvis Presley who is portrayed not as an icon, but more of a lousy, drugged up adulterer who just happens to have one of the greatest careers in music.

How Jacob Elordi plays the troubled Elvis doesn’t make you hate him, but definitely gives you a different view of such an icon and more of a troubled man who clearly needs Priscilla in his life and vice versa, but it ends up being more of a tale of can’t live and can’t live without and the struggles that come from that type of relationship. 

Cailee Spaney and Jacob Elordi in Priscilla.

Coppola’s direction takes us on a ride to see life for Priscilla in Graceland, the film showcases her keen eye for compassion, with breathtaking visuals that capture the beauty of the troubled world that Priscilla and Elvis lived in, often claustrophobic, we are always with them, and the outside world seems secondary, which feels exactly what Priscilla must have felt while she was with Elvis in real life, at least that is what we are meant to believe.

The serene and meditative experience circles in on itself to where we see Elvis and Priscilla trying to deal with life with each other where everything seems to be the same as it is unraveling. The monotony of a failed relationship that once was very special is shown in great detail, as you want them to get back together and never see each other at the same time throughout the entire film. The viewer is going through what they are going through, for the good and the bad.

This image released by A24 shows Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla, in a scene from “Priscilla.” (Sabrina Lantos/A24 via AP)

Cailee Spaeny delivers a captivating performance as Priscilla, carrying the film on her shoulders to potential award-winning glory in the months to come. Her portrayal of a woman in the midst of personal transformation is both compelling and relatable. Priscilla’s emotions are conveyed through subtleties, and Cailee Spaeny excels in expressing Priscilla’s internal journey with remarkable grace even as it unravels a little bit toward the end of the film as many things on that journey are repeated. It doesn’t make the movie bad or spiral out of control, it just makes you feel what they must have been feeling as you want to get out of their relationship faster than they ever wanted to or are trying to.

You’re going to come into this story with whatever feelings you have for Elvis, and though you might look at him more negatively after this, it will not change the entertainer he was and it might actually have you question if Priscilla is actually telling the truth, one thing is for sure, this film shows Priscilla’s truth, through all the ups and downs and complications Elvis brought to the relationship and that she brought to the relationship, which makes you at the end of the day really try to reason and feel for both of them.

Where “Priscilla” truly shines is in its approach to storytelling, where it is just laid out there for you to feed on and take it wherever you want to take it. The film’s quiet moments are powerful, allowing viewers to form a deep connection with the characters and their emotional arcs to where you start to miss that aspect of the performances as we get to know them more as the film carries on. It provides a mood where you want to know more but have seen enough once Priscilla meets her eventual tipping point.

Jacob Elordi as Elvis Presley and Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley in Priscilla (Sabrina Lantos)

“Priscilla” invites its audience to reflect on life and the relationships we have with each other both loving and friendly, with all the subtle shifts that define our personal journeys. It is a meditation on change, self-discovery, and the resilience of the human spirit. While some may find the deliberate pacing challenging, those who appreciate cinema as a medium for introspection will be rewarded with a deeply moving experience.

The world Sofia Coppola presents with “Priscilla” is not perfect and sometimes flawed, just like the characters we are watching in the film. Those characters who are actually real people allow an introspective look into a life any of us could have or have had that will make what we watched linger in our thoughts long after the credits roll. “Priscilla” isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you will certainly want to take a few sips and see where it goes as it teaches us and tells us a lot about people we have beloved and shows that even those that seem to have it all, just might not have anything they really need.

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