The satan is within the particulars. Pink-nailed toes scrunching on a pink carpet; a packet of false eyelashes; piles of chips in a Vegas on line casino; the capsules. Always the capsules: squeezed in a palm that opens to disclose its little white prize; lined up in bottles on the bedside desk; slipped right into a pocket on the way in which to high school. “Maybe the capsules are an excessive amount of,” ventures Priscilla Beaulieu to her boyfriend Elvis Presley, after considered one of his flares of mood the place she simply manages to dodge his fist. “I’ve docs taking care of me,” he growls. “I don’t want a second opinion.”
Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, primarily based on Priscilla Presley’s ebook Elvis and Me and in competitors on the Venice Film Festival, doesn’t pull any fancy methods with timelines or frames of reference; it’s a straightforwardly linear retelling of her romance with the King, starting with the celebration the place she met him in West Germany and ending on the day she left their marriage. Biopics, particularly biopics that by no means deviate from the information of a life, usually really feel plodding. Elvis Presley’s story, furthermore, has been advised usually sufficient; most individuals know the naked bones of the Presley story. Told from his former spouse’s perspective, nevertheless, it turns into one other story altogether.
And it’s advised by Coppola, whose stylistic pizzazz overcomes the boring sense that we all know precisely what’s going to occur. Those particulars – the objects seen in close-up, the rigorously evoked shadowy interiors of homes the place the curtains are all the time closed in opposition to the solar, the costumes that present the teenage Priscilla trussed in ball robes, like slightly woman enjoying dress-up along with her mom’s wardrobe – are like an extra narrative rippling throughout the information we already know.
Returning to these information, nevertheless, they really feel disquieting in a manner they could not have performed on the time. Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi) is 24 and doing his Army service in West Germany when he meets Priscilla (Cailee Spaeny). She is in ninth grade, dwelling on the U.S. navy base. We meet her dad and mom. They are strict and unsurprisingly reluctant to let her go to a celebration on the residence of a well-known heartthrob. When stated heartthrob has his pal – the leisure officer on the bottom – name to say he desires to see her once more, they ask the query any of us would: what does he need along with her? Then we see how his successful Southern methods flip their heads; how quickly she was seeing him each night he may and, when his service in Germany is over, how they let her go to remain at Graceland. The following 12 months, she strikes to Graceland for good; Elvis guarantees to ship her to an excellent college and ensure she does her homework.
As portrayed right here, the younger Priscilla was demure, pliable and virginal. Presley tells her father he likes speaking to her. She barely talks again. What does she must say, in spite of everything? “How’s my toddler?” he asks on the cellphone when she remains to be again in West Germany, as if she had been a pet. We see them collectively in a number of scenes earlier than Coppola surprises us with how little she really is: Spaeny barely reaches Elordi’s chest.
It is a damning view of a person and – ultimately – a wedding. He sends Priscilla out purchasing for garments and the lads round him – there are all the time males round him – collect to approve or reject the outcomes. Plain colours, he insists; a small lady can’t put on prints. She should dye her hair black. She can’t work, as a result of she should be there when he calls. That’s what he wants in a girl. What he doesn’t want, apparently, is what her dad and mom would fairly have feared. He lies on his huge mattress along with her and lays down one his many guidelines: they need to not get carried away. Sex is much less engaging to him, clearly, than the management he can exert by withholding it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Coppola has been at her finest when observing the workings of fame, affluence and extra, not making an attempt to skewer or accuse anybody however merely registering what she sees.
The energy of her movies is that appears to see the whole lot. As a movie, Priscilla feels slight; there aren’t any revelations, no showdowns, no retrospective assessments of what was actually happening right here or the way it mirrored the broader world. There is simply this view of Priscilla drawing cat’s-eye flicks along with her black eyeliner, that monogrammed rug decked out with musical notes, that mattress – often shot from Elvis’s aspect – the place he spends most of his life when he’s at residence. Small issues, however Coppola finds the which means in them.
Festival: Venice (Competition)
Release date: October 27, 2023
Director-screenwriter: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi, Dagmara Dominczyk
Running time: 1 hr 46 min