Paulie’s Perspective: Priscilla (2023)

Priscilla (2023)

Dir: Sophia Coppola

Writer: Priscilla Presley; Sandra Harmon; Sofia Coppola

Starring: Cailee Spaeny; Jacob Elordi

By Paul Bernardo

Let’s just say this – Priscilla Presley does not know how to write. This story – no, can’t really call it a story, this series of events is about as exciting as Priscilla’s personality. It’s pure cardboard. It’s stiff, uneventful, avoids all the juicy stuff, and just focuses on Priscilla, who really had no life at all with Elvis.

I think we all know Elvis had a historic, landmark, iconic life. He broke records of all kinds, had 30 or so hit films with hit soundtracks and hit songs. Did the first satellite concert that was beamed all over the globe – well none of that is mentioned here. This is Priscilla and her story. Do you want to know what her story is? Priscilla’s entire story is her on the phone with Elvis saying “when are you coming home?”. That is the whole movie in a nutshell.

So it’s a scene of Priscilla literally doing nothing, then the phone rings, and she says “Elvis when are you coming home?”. Then it’s a musical montage of Priscilla and Elvis at the pool or taking photos of each other or fooling around on the lawn at Graceland. Then another scene, “When are you coming home?”, and the big finale – “I’m leaving you”. The End. That’s the movie. Not even a big divorce battle or even a divorce discussion! She gets in her car, drives out of the gates and the movie ends. So the audience gets robbed of even that!

I remember when this movie was being released, and some people were happy that Elvis was going to be exposed as the cradle robber he was with Priscilla. And that might have been so, but this movie never shows it. In fact, this movie never shows anything. No good times, no bad times, no problems, no highs, no lows. It’s basically a radio show without dialogue. You can tell Priscilla did not want to write anything bad about Elvis, so she didn’t write anything at all. Just her being bored to death at Graceland, and popping some pills whenever they were together, which was not often.

Jacob Elordi from Saltburn fame stars as Elvis and does a good job. Jacob gets the stand down, gets the accent down, is gentle as a lamb, gets the laugh down and is great. No music in this movie, no singing, no dancing, so he’s just fine. In fact, Jacob does not have to do much of anything in this movie, and neither does the girl who played Priscila, Cailee Spaeny. I feel bad for her because I’m sure she thought she was going to be a breakout star. I mean how could she not be? A major movie about Elvis? Directed by Sofia Coppola? It’s a no brainer, right? Well this film misses big time.

The only thing making this film watchable was Sofia’s style, and continued hope that something is going to happen soon. Sofia has the same gentle, awkward, quiet style she had in Lost In Translation. Sofia puts good music in here as she did with Lost in Translation. Problem is, there is no Bill Murray to do crazy things, and we’re not in a captivating culture and night life

like Japan. Everything takes place in an empty room in Graceland or on an empty lawn in Graceland.

We never see Elvis in the studio, because Priscilla wasn’t there. We never see Elvis on a movie set, because Priscilla wasn’t there. We never see Elvis on tour or in concert, because Priscilla wasn’t there. You know what we do see, is Priscilla sitting by the phone, waiting.

The movie also never even gets into the affair she had with her karate instructor and the internal conflict she must have had cheating on her husband. All we see is her having dinner with the man. That’s it. No affair, no discussion of leaving Elvis, nothing. Just a dinner with the other man on an outdoor patio with some friends. That’s the whole thing.

So to say this movie plays it safe is an understatement, and it’s probably why once people saw this film, the grumbling of cradle robbing stopped. In fact, all talk of this film stopped once it came out. No conflict of any kind, and to say Elvis led a boring life is to talk crazy. Priscilla took the most electrifying man in entertainment history and toned it down to an empty room, with a silent phone. Incredible. I don’t know what’s in the book, but I have to imagine that these were the best, most exciting parts.

Elvis may have been exciting and groundbreaking, but apparently Priscilla was kept in a cage at Graceland, waiting by the phone.