By Hannah Kremer, Newswire Intern
Since Priscilla hit the box office on Oct. 27, it has turned curious moviegoers into Elvis haters in just an hour and 50 minutes, and I was certainly no exception.
Director Sofia Coppola tells the story of Priscilla Beaulieu, who at 14 years old finds herself living in Germany where her father is stationed. Quiet and lonely, she is invited to Elvis Presley’s party, where they find love and common ground in their homesickness.
I went into this experience hoping I would learn more about Priscilla and her perspectives on the relationship, as well as understand Elvis on a level that wasn’t dominated by depictions of his fame. Coppola delivers this with beautiful cinematography and switches up the way Elvis has been viewed since the movie starring Austin Butler came out a year before. However, this is where my compliments end.
Jacob Elordi was a poor casting choice for Elvis. He simply does not compare to other portrayals of Presley. While his voice is remarkably similar to Elvis’, it is so thick that most of the time, I was just trying to figure out what he said. It was criminal that this film doesn’t have captions provided. On top of that, the way he and Cailee Spaeny (Priscilla) played their characters felt one dimensional.
The cultural idea of how the couple was viewed was there, but there was little emotional value to their acting, even when certain scenes required it. Elvis’s sole personality trait during the whole thing was the way he always referred to Priscilla as “little one” or that she always needed to stay home to “keep the home fires burning.” And his drug addiction, of course.
Priscilla’s psyche is also left as a mystery to us because there is so little intensity to her reactions even when it was warranted. There was too much focus on her being just a shy, naïve girl who did not yet understand the kind of person the superstar was.
The slow pacing also drove me crazy. The movie only starts when Priscilla meets Elvis, and ends the exact moment when she leaves him. You would think the whole point of a movie about Priscilla is to get the full picture of her. Instead, we were fed with the highs and lows of their relationship. Nothing was new information, and the movie lost all of its potential by becoming a disjointed collection of the couple’s toxicity.
The ending was probably the worst part of this movie’s pacing, though. I watched Priscilla drive away from Graceland, taking in her realization that there was more to her life than Elvis, and just as I began to sit with her character transformation, the movie ended. Of course, if you’re a film buff, you might argue this is intentional as it demonstrates how it symbolically highlights her new life without Elvis. Whatever.
If you’re like me and really don’t care to analyze a movie, then you too would come to the conclusion that it sucked. It felt rushed and unsatisfying, and there was little time to digest her character. The opportunity to understand what her life was like after she left was not given, and it was disappointing.
In short, you should go see Priscilla if you are looking for a movie that offers little nuance to Priscilla’s story, or just want a straightforward memoir of her life.
However, I feel that this movie missed a key opportunity to breathe more life into the couple’s story and downfall. Instead, what we got was an incomplete story that will make you wish you saw Five Nights at Freddy’s rather than this.