Priscilla Courtesy of Sabrina Lantos A24 4

They say you ought to by no means meet your heroes, however you undoubtedly shouldn’t begin romancing them abroad when you’re 14 (to their 24), allow them to ply you with drugs, dictate what garments you put on, and lure you in a mansion whereas they go off to fuck starlets and groupies.

Such is the plight of younger Priscilla Presley in Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, a fascinating new movie faithfully tailored from Presley’s 1985 memoir Elvis and Me. As the story goes, Priscilla Beaulieu (performed by Cailee Spaeny) meets Specialist Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi) in September of 1959 whereas he’s stationed in West Germany. She is simply 14 years previous, and he already a rock supernova, serving time within the Army to appease the patriotic fantasies of his overlord, Colonel Tom Parker. The two first cross paths at a celebration at Elvis’s rental residence, the place his eyes look previous all of the age-appropriate girls and practice on the out-of-place lady. While teenage Priscilla is understandably intoxicated by the music god’s attract, Elordi’s dead-eyed stare factors to one thing extra chilling. It’s a scene that’s equal elements meet-cute and getting into the lion’s den.

“Ninth grade? Why, you’re only a child!” he exclaims.

Despite their age distinction, and his penchant for calling her “child” or “toddler” (yikes), the 2 quickly change into inseparable. And Elvis is depicted within the movie as being gentlemanly towards his teen paramour, as off-putting as their courtship appears by way of 21st-century eyes, confiding in her about how a lot he misses residence and his late mama, and asking (and being granted) permission by her mother and father to take her out on dates to the flicks, or shindigs at his home.

“He simply misplaced his mom, and he’s nonetheless grieving!” Priscilla exclaims to her nervous mother (Succession’s Dagmara Domińczyk). “He trusts me!”

Before you may say “you ain’t nothin’ however a hound canine,” Elvis has his talons deep in Priscilla. He’s all she will be able to take into consideration for he’s the solar, one of the crucial well-known and revered males on the planet, and he’s shining brightly on her. He might have anybody, she (and her mother and father) surprise, so why her? Maybe he’s a weirdo who obtained turned on by how transgressive that is, we predict. Their first kiss is about to Joan Jett’s cowl of “Crimson and Clover,” certainly one of many musical cues that Coppola — and Phoenix, her husband Thomas Mars’ band who scored the movie — knock out of the park.

But Elvis is honorably discharged from the Army in 1960 and returns to the States, whereas Priscilla is caught in West Germany for one more 12 months and a half. They speak and write often, with Priscilla studying of Elvis’s rumored flings with Nancy Sinatra and the like by way of the gossip rags. She is a bit jealous, sure, however principally yearns for once they’ll be reunited. That lastly occurs in the summertime of 1962, when Priscilla, now 16, is allowed by her mother and father to go to him at Graceland, although he whisks her off to Vegas as an alternative. It’s right here the place you actually begin to fear for Priscilla, as a pilled-out Elvis fingers her amphetamines to remain awake and Placidyl (a strong sedative) to fall asleep. He provides her a 500 mg dose of Placidyl the primary time, which places her beneath for 2 complete days. Both in his residence and in Vegas, she tries to provoke intercourse with Elvis, however he refuses, although says they “can do different issues.” For what it’s value, the real-life Presley has insisted that Elvis by no means crossed this boundary together with her whereas she was underage, each at the picture’s Venice Film Festival press conference

and in her memoir, claiming that they waited to have intercourse till their marriage ceremony evening, when she was weeks shy of twenty-two. In Priscilla, you get the sense that Elvis suffers from Peter Pan Syndrome, and that he’s fetishized her chasteness to an alarming diploma.

By the spring of 1963, Priscilla has moved into Graceland — on the situation that Elvis’s father and grandmother chaperone her, and that she finishes highschool. And it doesn’t take lengthy for issues to go full Pygmalion, as Elvis chooses what outfits she will be able to put on (and has her attempt them on in entrance of the Memphis Mafia, though she’s nonetheless a excessive schooler), forces her to dye her hair black and apply eye make-up, and refuses to let her have pals over or work a part-time job at a boutique, though he disappears for months at a time filming motion pictures (and sleeping together with his co-stars). She must be at his beck and name, he says, in any other case there are many girls (women?) who would gladly take her place.

“It’s both me or a profession, child,” he tells her.

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Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley in ‘Priscilla.’

Sabrina Lantos/A24

Spaeny, who’s 25 however makes for a convincing teenager, is an absolute marvel, nailing Priscilla’s sophisticated mélange of feelings — the wide-eyed wonderment and youthful want, the apprehension and worry — whereas Elordi’s Elvis feels extra grounded in actuality than Austin Butler’s pouty hip-shaker. He is horny and charming, sure, but additionally harmful and at instances, terrifying. And Coppola doesn’t draw back from exhibiting the darker facet of Elvis, as we see him demeaning Priscilla, hurling a chair at her head, and almost sexually assaulting her in Vegas as he says, “This is how an actual man makes like to his girl.” (In her memoir, Priscilla wrote that Elvis “forcefully made like to me,” however she later downplayed her description of the incident.)

You couldn’t ask for a greater particular person to deal with this materials than Coppola, who’s no stranger to depicting younger feminine protagonists and the highly effective males who take pleasure in maintaining them locked in gilded cages, whether or not or not it’s the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, the Chateau Marmont, the Palace of Versailles or Graceland. As the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, she’s lived it, and is uniquely outfitted to indicate what it’s prefer to put an enormous, flawed man on a pedestal solely to see that pedestal crack. Coppola augments Elvis’s maintain on Priscilla by way of bursts of coloration and sound, whereas each costume and automotive appears period-perfect. She additionally makes the sensible alternative of permitting us to see Elvis completely by way of Priscilla’s eyes, sidestepping the lengthy musical performances and scenes on Hollywood units that plague extra conventional biopics. This isn’t about Elvis’s musicianship; it’s about her expertise with him, and few movies have so vividly captured the exhilaration, ennui, and dread of falling for a star.


People could fault Coppola for dipping her toe in acquainted terrain, however it’s onerous to argue with the outcome: a transportive, heartbreaking journey into the darkish coronary heart of superstar, and her best movie since Lost in Translation.

Priscilla might be launched in theaters on Oct. 27.

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